The 'Mental Samurai' Prize Isn't As Big As Some Game Shows, But It Might Be Easier To Win
You may be a master at trivia and puzzles, but can you do them while being flung through the air in some kind of 360-degree spinny-chair contraption? Fox's new game show, Mental Samurai, is putting that question — which really, no one was asking — to the test. But while being a contestant on the series might seem a little out there (or nauseating, depending on how well you fare on carnival rides), the $100,000 Mental Samurai prize might be worth the risk of losing your lunch.
The game itself sounds simple. Contestants are strapped into the show's machine, then spun around the set while answering questions. Each contestant has five minutes to answer 12 questions, or about 25 seconds per answer. If a contestant can get all 12 correct, they enter the Circle of Samurai, which they must complete if they want to take home the $100,000.
As far as game shows go, $100,000 isn't that large of a sum compared to, say, Survivor or Million Dollar Mile, both of which have a one million dollar grand prize. However, considering that all you have to do is sit in a chair and answer a dozen questions in about as much time as it usually takes for water to boil — albeit while being spun through the air — Mental Samurai may be the best game show competition when it comes to how little you have to do in order to make a significant amount of money.
As a whole, Mental Samurai appears to be a souped-up, physically challenging attempt to revive traditional quiz shows. Nowadays, many game shows are season-long competitions: The Amazing Race, Big Brother, Top Chef, MasterChef, the aforementioned Survivor, and so on. This allows cast members' personalities to shine through and relationships — whether friendships, romances, or rivalries — to form, rather than repeating the same challenge over and over again and swapping out contestants each episode.
But despite these series' popularity, it seems like the old-fashioned quiz show format is making a return. While classics like Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune persist in part because they are, at this point, television institutions, Fox's recent success with Beat Shazam!, which was renewed for a third season in August of 2018, seems to have inspired the network to explore more ways to revive the classic quiz show format. Mental Samurai and Beat Shazam! will be joined this summer by Spin The Wheel, hosted by Dax Shepard and executive-produced by Justin Timberlake.
But while Beat Shazam! is a sort of reimagining of Name That Tune and Spin The Wheel sounds like an attempt to modernize wheel-based games like Wheel Of Fortune or The Price Is Right's "Big Wheel" game, Mental Samurai is entirely its own thing, which should help it to stand out. If the Masked Singer phenomenon is any indication, people are clearly interested in wild new competition shows, so who knows, perhaps you could be whirling around a stage for your chance at $100,000 someday soon.