Let’s face it: with the wider and more diverse spectrum of gamers that the console is now catering for, the Wii isn’t short of party-type games. We’ve seen countless conversions of popular board games springing up throughout the Wii’s life so far – many have been cheap cash-ins and blatant attempts to take advantage of a naive audience. With the release of Trivial Pursuit however, EA tried to break this cycle and produce the definitive videogame version of the classic board game, Trivial Pursuit.
Many people have at least heard of Trivial Pursuit, even if they perhaps haven’t played it before. If you haven’t, it’s basically a trivia game – hence the title – where the object for 2-6 players is simply to answer questions from a variety of categories. In the ‘classic' version of the game these categories are Geography, Entertainment, History, Arts & Literature, Science & Nature, and Sports & Leisure. Using a game-piece of their choosing, players move around the board, landing on squares – coloured according to the aforementioned categories – and answering the questions posed. If the their piece lands on one of the six ‘special category’ stations and they answer the given question correctly, the player gets to collect a ‘wedge’ of the same colour as the station. The first player to collect all six different coloured wedges wins the game.
In this release, the developer has, amongst a variety of other additions, included the videogame adaptation of the classic board game. However, the big twist to the formula is that answers are in the form of multiple-choice options as opposed to being plucked from the top of your head. This may sound like a big of a poor idea, but it actually works very well – EA has ensured that the difficulty is pitched appropriately.
EA have also included a single player-only mode called ‘Clear the Board’ where, as the title suggests, the die are spun and the wedges collected one after the other until the board is cleared. The key difference here is that, once a wedge is obtained, all related questions within that category are removed from the board – decreasing its size each time. Clear the Board is actually a fun and addictive way to play the game; it allows you to get some value from whilst playing alone, which you could never do in the traditional board game. How much longevity you get out of this depends on the extent of which you enjoy beating previous high scores, as this mode puts strong focus on that notion.
In addition to the single player mode, the ‘classic’ multiplayer game is available for up to 4 players. If you don’t have multiple Wii remotes, the game allows your single remote to be passed around to the other players – at least you won’t have to run out and buy three more if some friends want to join you! This mode follows more closely the game we all know and love, and, as you’d expect with 4 players, it’s very entertaining. Following this, there is another multiplayer mode, entitled ‘Facts and Friends’: the difference here is that all players taking part share the same game piece, and this means that each wedge can only be won by one player. Some innovative elements are thrown in to this variation: for example, the ability to steal other players’ wedges and other amusing events.
Trivial Pursuit’s presentation is standard enough as you’d probably expect. Its graphics are bright, colourful and mostly quite appealing, although a little samey after a while. In terms of sound, the tracks that play in the menu screens suit the game’s nature, and the in-game announcer can become a bit annoying with too much repetition in his quips – although, looking at examples from fellow party games, things could have been a lot worse.
Unfortunately, a very noticeable omission from Trivial Pursuit is online multiplayer. As enjoyable as playing against your friends in the same room is, the developer’s choice to not include any Wi-Fi functionality at all seems a seriously missed opportunity as the single-player game mode can only last so long – online features could have gone a long way towards giving the game more value. And although the trivia questions are mostly challenging and fun to answer, some of them – like the bizarrely ‘geographical’ questions in the form of pointing at a location on a map, for example, where a movie was filmed – are frustratingly difficult and are the plight of every category. It wouldn’t be so bad if the icon of a city/country that can be chosen had its name next to it, but even if you know which state something occurred in, finding it in a map of the USA can be extremely challenging.
EA’s conversion of the classic board game is entertaining and offers some great multiplayer action. The developer has intelligently implemented new, inventive game types, which bring with them fresh rules to a game we’ve been playing for years. It’s most regrettable that you can’t jump into a match online to test your knowledge against other trivia enthusiasts around the world, and the inclusion of overly-difficult questions frustrates more than entertains. But, as it stands, Trivial Pursuit has been successfully converted into video game format: it provides a wealth of trivia questions that will appeal to all fans of the game.