Hollywood Squares has existed, in various forms, since the 1960s. Its format is one of bland simplicity: nine celebrities of varying levels of actual fame sit in the titular squares. Two players take turns picking squares. The celebrity is asked a trivia question, and the player must decide if their answer is right or wrong. If they guess correctly they claim the square; if they guess incorrectly their opponent does. Beyond that the game is one of Tic-Tac-Toe.
This banal setup is, in reality, simply a frame to hold the real and equally bland dynamic, in which the celebrities came up with humorous wrong answers, called “zingers” by the production sta. Which is to say that the core dynamic of the show is simply celebrities making dumb jokes with a broad structure of a game show to guide proceedings. In truth, all of these interactions were functionally scripted; the zingers were supplied along with a right and plausible wrong answer, the celebrities relied upon only for entertaining delivery, which, to be fair, was in fact many of their jobs.
The Nintendo version strips even more of this away. The likenesses of actual celebrities are, after all, expensive. So instead there are nine sprites given arbitrary names—only nine sprites, to be clear, although there are more names than that, so that these fictive celebrities seem in fact to cycle through an endless number of identities, all of them less distinctive than their actual animations. One is left to think of them in these terms: the annoying bro in the center square, the granny underneath her, the one Black dude in the upper right. Their names become meaningless, empty non-signifiers. Meanwhile you answer trivia questions for money that does not exist, and get an opportunity as a bonus to try to win a car that also does not exist.
It is a simulation of a simulated situation with all of the markers that gave meaning to the original simulation stripped away. Looked at now, nearly twenty years since any version of Hollywood Squares has been on television, its vapidity becomes a hollow, frightened thing. Nine haunted visages of a spectacle so comprehensively unreal that it is impossible to imagine it demanding, over and over again, to know if they are lying to you.