Three teams of two competed; the game primarily involved selecting categories off a Press Your Luck-style video wall (with a giant mouse button, hence the name of the show), answering questions to earn money (ranging from $25 to $100). While some questions were general knowledge, some special questions with technological themes required dashing from the main podium (the "motherboard") to a different "station" on the set, such as the Web Site (which mainly dealt in audio and visual questions) and Word Wizard (which mainly featured word-related puzzles). In the second season, general knowledge questions were moved to another station, the Hard Drive, and Word Wizard became the Chat Room.
The first roun-er, Level, had each team play the board for an allotted amount of time trying to build up their score. In Level 2, control of the mouse started with the lowest-scoring team (like Griffin's own Jeopardy!), but could be stolen by opponents on a wrong answer or if controlling team hits the dreaded Virus space (in the grand tradition of Wheel of Fortune). Again like Wheel, Seacrest assumed control of the board in the final round, with one member of each team at each station (the first to answer), the other members at their respective podiums (who could all ring in if the first player to answer missed), and all questions are affixed to a $100 bounty. Part-way through, the teammates switched in. The team with the highest cumulative score advanced to the bonus round.
Game Show Tropes in use
- Bonus Round: Answer three questions in the time allotted (45 seconds in season 1, 60 in season 2). Win a prize for each question answered correctly, win the grand prize of computers for both team members if all three are answered correctly. In season 2, all three correct answers had to be given consecutively to win the grand prize.
- Bonus Space: Double Click, which appeared in Level 1, could double a team's score if the corresponding question was answered correctly.
- If a team had $75 or less when they land on the Double Click, the question given was valued at a flat $100.
- Extra Turn:
- Come Season 2, both players would get a chance to answer the same question in Level 1.
- Most prevalent in Level 3 due to its structure. If the player at the Motherboard/Hard Drive is unable to provide a correct answer, his/her partner could ring in and save the question for the team.
- Speed Round: Arguably both the first and last rounds.
- Whammy: The Virus (Crash in season 2), which gave the other two teams a chance to steal control of the mouse—and earn some money—if they answer correctly.
This series provides examples of
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The teams' shirts and respective podiums are red, green, and yellow.
- Hell Is That Noise: The Virus/Crash.Gotcha!
- Last Chance Hit Point: In Level 1, if a question is asked before the timer zeroes out, the team playing is given the opportunity to answer it.
- Luck-Based Mission: Most of the game applies, but the third round in particular. One team could, theoretically, be blessed to get first shot at several questions in a row. And, since each one player from each team stood behind at the podium, one team could have two opportunities to answer the same question.
- Rule of Three: Three teams, three rounds, three stations.