After playing a ton of shooters and RPGs for the last few months, I decided to rent a bit of a “relaxation game”. An advertisement on the Nintendo Channel told me that Trivial Pursuit was available as of last week, and I figured that I'd give it a shot. This marks the first time I have ever rented or even played a console game based on a popular board game. Usually I stay clear on these types of games because they try to add in weird rules and other annoyances as with some PC-based Monopoly games. Since consoles already have strong trivia franchises like Sony's Buzz! series and the X-box 360’s Scene It franchise (which was also a board game before), I was looking forward to seeing if this could be the trivia game on the Wii.
After choosing a custom Mii-like avatar for each player, you have a choice to make. The game contains a few modes: 'Classic' mode is your standard out of the box Trivial Pursuit experience, 'Clear the Board' mode is a single player solitaire style mode, and 'Facts & Friends' is a new addition that allows you to place bets on how much your friends know. For me, the best of the three modes was in fact ‘Classic’ mode, as you really can’t mess up the original formula, but the others didn’t disappoint. Since most of you have played the original game I won’t go over the details of ‘Classic’ mode.
'Clear the Board' mode is a one-player game in which you keep answering questions to build a multiplier. For instance, if you keep answering orange questions right, the orange pie piece will suddenly gain +1 to the multiplier each time you get one right. Once you clear the board of all available orange pieces you can go for the pie piece. You don’t want to go for it too early or you may lose questions you have not tried, as the pie clears the board of all of the same-colored questions when answered. Once you complete the game, Trivial Pursuit adds your name and Mii-like avatar to the winner’s board for virtual bragging rights.
'Facts & Friends' mode was far more confusing that it should have been, and while fun, has the potential to really annoy your friends . Basically, its just like regular Trivial Pursuit, except you get a small percentage of a pie piece each time you get a question right. If you get a pie, it then gives it to you immediately. Once obtained, this pie color is off-limits to all other players. The jerk moves by buddies come from the betting system. As you play your friends have the ability to bet whether or not you will get the question right or wrong, making them gain more or less of a pie piece in the process. This was furthered by the Mario Party-like “steal someone’s pie piece” spots on the board and other choices. One thing I must say is that if you have a really competitive friend that throws controllers when they lose, this mode is not for you.
The question variety is pretty diverse, and seems to be tailored to the modern internet crowd. I was amazed to see questions about Doctor Who, Miyazaki anime films, and episodes of the Office in there. The questions are split into a few banks, including one that is entirely movie related, and leans more towards the entertainment industry, and one that is slightly more standard. Most of the questions seem to be entertainment based even if they are not in the "movie" pack, so its not like this is a dumbed down version of the game, just one centered around movies, TV, and such. There are, however, some really dumb questions, like this one I got when going for the literature pie piece:
“What fruit seed did folktale legend Johnny Appleseed plant around the country?
It was because of questions like this that I really wanted an option to filter out questions that were too easy, because albeit funny, that question was kind of lame.
Another problem was the geography questions. The developers of the game came up with a few ingenious ways to make the questions not rely on multiple choice all the time. One of these was a map of someplace with four dots and a question asking where some event happened. This was great until I realized that none of these dots where labeled. This was especially annoying when all four dots where insanely close to one another. Another variation on this was a version that had you place the dot on a map based on a question. This version was a bit better as it allowed you a bit of an error margin.
Questions aside, the game’s presentation is pretty good, and the graphics and sound are as good as you would expect for a game where no real leaps in graphical or musical technology are needed. The only real annoyance from a technical standpoint is the announcer’s voice. During the game there is a guy trying to be as funny and witty as the host of ‘You Don’t know Jack’. This Trivial Pursuit guy is, however, the most annoying video game creation ever. Every time you get a question wrong be prepared to withstand endless quips like “Hey good job….NOT!” With no option to turn the announcer off, I was quite annoyed. To counter the announcer, one nice touch was the way that the game keeps track of stats. These stats, displayed on a ticker on the bottom of the screen, display things like questions answered right or wrong and other goodies.
The biggest gripe I have with this game comes in two parts, both related to online features. First and foremost Trivial Pursuit for the Nintendo Wii has no online capabilities whatsoever. This isn’t terrible, but I would have a lot more fun not always trying to get people to come over to play games like this. Sometimes you just want to play a bit of a trivia game, and not have a full-blown party on your hands as a catalyst. The second part is that the Wii version likely won't end up ever having the downloadable content that the instruction book talks about. I believe this because there is no option for it in the game’s menu. In interviews EA noted that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game will have downloadable content out of the gate. This seems kind of cheap because the question banks in the game are labeled as “packs” and state that you can add more packs, but without the infrastructure within the game allowing it, I have no idea how this will come to pass.
Trivial Pursuit for the Wii is a fun, yet legitimately flawed game. While passable, the game seems kind of bland sometimes, and I grew tired of it after a short period of time. While the game boasts thousands of questions, some are too complicated, like the map questions, and there will be no way for the Wii version to get more, making this version not nearly as good as others. And the final straw is the lack of online play, as I don’t want to invite people over just to play a game, as I had to do when reviewing this. All in all, I liked Trivial Pursuit, but I think I’ll spend the extra cash, and get more cards for the actual board game.