Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Trivial Pursuit

Sorry for the radio silence lately...I was out of town and therefore not gaming.

But I'm back and better than ever! Or at least the same as always. I finished Trivial Pursuit yesterday so it's time to put it under the microscope and see how it fares.

As a recreation of the board game, Trivial Pursuit holds up reasonably well. You roll a die, move spaces around the board, and answer trivia questions in six different categories. There's a "Classic" mode that just uses the typical rules, but the gameplay is fleshed out with two additional bonus modes. One is "Clear the Board", a single player variant in which you answer questions for points as you collect the various pie wedges. I guess this mode is meant to satisfy antisocial people who like trivia, but I found it to be pretty dull. Far better is the "Facts and Friends" mode, a multiplayer variant in which each player shares one game piece as it moves around the board and the other players try to guess whether their friends will get questions right or not. It also includes bonus tiles that allow players to steal pie wedges or teleport the game piece around the board. It's a nice update to the classic rules that largely negates the advantage of one person being luckier with their die rolls than the other.

There are some key differences between the board game and this title though. First of all, questions are answered largely as multiple choice affairs rather than straight memory recall, as in the original board game version. Multiple choice definitely changes the dynamic, as seeing the correct answer will often jog your memory. Even eliminating a couple wrong answers gives a player a good chance of guessing the correct one. Beyond that, I still question whether this is an adequate replacement for the actual board game in local play. Certainly being able to play remotely with friends over Live is an advantage, but if we're in the same house then call me a Luddite but I'd still much rather roll the dice and read the cards to each other than sit on the couch staring at the TV.

A lot of board games have been translated into Live Arcade titles, including Catan, Carcasonne, and all the Family Game Night entries. But Trivial Pursuit was released as a full retail game, so it has to be judged based on those terms. Given that, I don't think it holds up really well. The experience is too shallow and fleeting to merit a full price purchase in my eyes. Although I will say that I never saw a repeat question, which is a plus.

In terms of Achievements, the full 1000 is a pretty simple task to complete. Most of them are earned for completing the various modes (classic, CTB, F&F) without missing questions in the six categories. The rest of them are tied to fairly simple tasks...there's a decent variety but there's really only so many challenges to be had in a game of Trivial Pursuit. While the icons are colorful, they're just pie wedges on colored backgrounds. I'm not sure what else they could have done given the limits of the material, but it's a dull and repetitive set.

Overall, I'd only recommend the game to a person who was a big fan of trivia games and wanted something to play with distantly located friends over Live.

1 comment:

  1. What about various packs? I really enjoyed the movie pack but are there others? What did you think of those?