The original Figure It Out debuted on Nickelodeon in 1997, and ran for a couple of seasons. It was a fairly simple game show where contestants who had some sort of skill or talent that had to be guessed by a panel of four Nick celebrities. Last year, Nickelodeon decided to bring the show back in a limited run (who knows if the show will continue after 2012). It's still the same show, but with a few tweaks.
The most noticeable difference is the hosts. The original host was Summer Sanders, a former Olympic athlete. The new host is Jeff Sutphen, which had hosted a Nick game show before the revival of Figure It Out. It was rumored that they were going to bring Sanders back into the show, but that never materialized. The current host does a decent enough job, and maybe even a bit better than how Sanders began her duties. It was pretty obvious that that was her first hosting gig, where at times she just seemed stiff and unsure how to conduct the show.
The set between both shows are radically different. The original Figure It Out looked like it was assembled as cheaply as possible, and I'm sure that the show never had a large budget (which was something noticeable in the Nick game shows after Legends Of The Hidden Temple, with the exception of Double Dare 2000, but that lasted less than a year). The sets' color scheme was composed of mostly green and purple, which even by 90's standards was a bit ugly. The clue board was a big head named Billy, and was fairly low tech (it was obvious someone was behind the head revealing the answers). The new Figure It Out set is actually pretty cool. I really like the use of color and geometric shapes throughout the whole set, and it really pops in HD. In fact, the whole production is much sharper, from the nifty opening title sequence to the sets. The clue board is a series of flat screen monitors, which seems appropriate, considering the technology we have now. The audience behind the panel has a diagonal slant, which compliments the rest of the set design. Truth be told, the new set is a huge improvement over the old one.
The show itself still plays out the same, though. A panel of four Nick celebrities has to try and guess what the contestant is there for. There is a series of three rounds, and at the end of each round if the contestants’ ability is not fully guessed, they win a prize. In the original Figure It Out, the first prize was a chunk of an old Nickelodeon set (mostly from Family Double Dare). The prize from the new version is usually a gift card for a store. The next prize for both versions was usually a videogame system (a Nintendo 64 then, a Nintendo 3DS now) or something within the $200-300 range. The last round prize for both shows was typically a trip to a resort. But again, it wasn't so much fun to see the contestant win the prizes as it was for what the show put the panel through. Sometimes clues would be fired off to the panel through an air cannon, and other times they had to open a door in front of them to see what was inside (both versions do this, by the way). In the second round of both shows, there was a secret action, that, if a panel member performs it, they would get slimed. In the original version, the slime usually was a bit of a trickle, but on some occasions, there was a pretty fair amount dumped on the panel member. The new version unloads the slime on the panel member, from all directions, and it's pretty damn funny to watch, even as an adult, which makes this show decent family entertainment. Plus, it's not just the panel member that can get slimed. Contestants also have the chance to get slime dumped on their heads if one of the panel members happens to guess the secret clue. It now goes both ways.
Unlike the update of Double Dare in 2000, the update for Figure It Out was a change for the better. The hosts for both shows do serviceable duties, though one doesn't necessarily do better than the other. But the newer set and the downpour of the slime on the panel makes it a better version of the show. At least that's my opinion, there are those out there who hate the change, but I think it's more than welcome.
**Figure It Out is a trademark of Nickelodeon and Viacom International**