I’m not sure whether Anticipation existed as an actual game or not, but the NES version offers a virtual board game experience for multiple players. Though it’s unclear why, if you have a number of people in the same room, you can’t just get out an actual board game. This game certainly doesn’t offer any unique reasons not to.
If you combined elements of Trivial Pursuit and Pictionary, you would come up with Anticipation. The game centers on being the first to identify a picture being drawn. Correctly identifying the picture gives you a square of that color, and once you have all four colored squares, you move on to the next level. As far as game ideas go, it’s not too revolutionary.
Interaction in the game is surprisingly limited. Players primarily sit and watch the computer draw out an object, then “ring in” and spell out that object using the traditional row of letters interface. That’s pretty much it. You don’t even roll to move around the board. Instead of a timer, dice count down and how fast you answer determines how far you move. This is a better setup than game conversions like Pictionary, which force you to attempt to draw with the NES controls. Yet with such limited interactivity, it creates a situation where it’s almost impossible to see any exciting games with friends happening here, no matter how drunk you get.
The “anticipation” promised by the title comes from predicting what the computer artist is unveiling. But that’s misleading. I would call it more of a “dim interest” or “apathetic observation”. You are given a simple category such as food or leisure, and a few helpful hints depending on the level. Level 1 has the computer artist and his magic pen connecting dots and provides you with a hangman-esque line of dashes representing letters of the answer. Level 2, which resides just above the first board, removes these. Strangely, a player can be on the second level with another simultaneously on the first, and when it is each player’s turn, the questions for everyone reflect the level that player is currently on. So a player on level 1 will have to answer a level 2 question, but get no bonus for it.
Though the game gets more difficult as you progress, it’s never exactly hard. Squares on the board go in sequence of different colors, so if you wait until the die/timer is on 1 before answering, you’ll simply hop to the next space and be in prime position to earn your next square. Connecting the dots on Level 1 is elementary, while the game gets more difficult further on. Level 2’s category “Whatchamacallit” is ridiculously obscure, and is made of word puzzles like the word “Wish” written above a drawing of a Star of David for the phrase “Wish Upon A Star.” If no one answers the question the game does not show the correct answer, so the strangest of the drawings go woefully unexplained. Still, at no point do you ever feel like much more than a trained chimp identifying objects thrown up on flashcards.
The graphics are adequate. The board and pieces are pretty much what you’d expect, while the drawings themselves are mere combinations of straight lines. These lines can sometimes get a little jumbled on corners, but in all there is never a time where you can’t understand what an object is supposed to be. The music is made up of a few campy jazz-like beats. Each colored category has its own theme, as well as a few scattered tunes such as the music that plays when you answer a question or move about the board. These are mostly unobtrusive, and also forgettable. The only controls in the game are for scrolling through letters and “ringing in” to answer, so there is nothing to comment about there.
With board pieces like a pair of high heels and a logo which includes a pair of woman’s lips, Anticipation certainly would like you to believe it’s a wild party game. Don’t be fooled. Four people willing to play a game will probably have much more fun with an old fashioned physical board game. Though you can play by yourself against the computer, the challenge is somewhat lacking and pointless. In all, you probably won’t want to bother with this title. There are better party games than this.
Mildly amusing party game. Sorta. Not really.
Nowhere near amusing enough for an actual party.