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Trivial Pursuit (Wii)

Rated: 3+ but play requires strong reading skills and a good deal of general knowledge - under-12s don't have much hope.

Gameplay: There are three modes:
  • Classic multiplayer: This is essentially a computerised version of the standard Trivial Pursuit board game. Travel round the board answering questions in categories such as History or Entertainment. Get a question right and you get to take another go. Each of the six categories has a special square which earns you a coloured wedge for your playing piece. Victory is achieved by collecting one of each type of wedge, returning to the start and answering a final question. Unlike the board game, the questions are multiple choice, can involve maps and pictures, and have a time limit.
  • Facts and Friends multiplayer: This is Triv made fast and more competitive. There's only one wedge of each colour and players win them by earning enough points in a particular category. Points are awarded for answering questions correctly and for guessing whether other players will get answers right or wrong. Once a category has been won, the corresponding spaces disappear and the board shrinks. Once all the categories have been won, wedges are converted to lives and the overall winner is decided by quick-fire questions everyone has to answer at once. Special squares add further complications, bringing such things as double points and allowing wedges to be stolen.
  • Single player: This is the Classic game with an added point system so you can play on your own for a high score. There are also achievements to be collected for doing well in different ways.
Save System: Automatic saves at regular intervals and the option to save and quit between questions.

Comments: As a board game, Trivial Pursuit shouldn't really work. It's long, frustrating and frequently involves sitting around for ages with nothing to do while someone else has a lucky streak. There's little interaction between opposing players. Kids and OAPs are usually at a disadvantage. It's not so much a pastime as a chance for those who know too much to show off.

And yet... I have many fond memories of playing Triv.

At family gatherings, it's the one game an entire room full of people can participate in and feel they are contributing. The range of questions means a team consisting of a granny, an uncle and an obscure cousin of indeterminate age have a good chance of wiping the floor with a gaggle teenagers who think they know everything because, let's face it, they really don't know who starred in Brief Encounter nor where the 1976 Olympics were held. The whole point of the game is to listen to them earnestly debate the possibilities for five minutes and then guess Munich anyway.

This computerised version of Trivial Pursuit misses the point. By introducing time limits in an attempt to speed the game up, it takes away much of the opportunity for team play. There's simply not long enough to go through to the kitchen and ask your mother-in-law what song Cliff sang to win the Eurovision Song Contest.

Another advantage of the board game is that most people in a team don't need to be anywhere near the board. Thanks to the picture and map questions in the computer version, however, everyone has to be sitting where they can see the telly. Not only that but the small text size makes it necessary to be closer to the screen than normal to avoid eye strain.

Disappointingly, there are no sound or video clips or anything much beyond a few pictures to expand the concept beyond the restrictions of the board game. If you want a classic game of Trivial Pursuit you'd be as well buying a normal set.

That said, the Facts and Friends mode does make the game faster and more fun in ways that would be difficult without a computer. Everyone takes turns in quick succession and there's never a lengthy, frustrating hunt for that final wedge. Team play is impossible, though, and the extremely tight time limits in the endgame mean only fluent readers have a chance.

The single player game is reasonably fun for half an hour but its long-term appeal is limited to those who really like high scores.

On top of all this, there are a number of minor niggles. For instance, it's very easy to press the wrong button when sliding a slider and so mess up an answer with no chance of taking it back. Conversely, it takes several button presses to actually roll again when landing on a roll again space. This is infuriating. Thankfully, at least the annoying voice-over guy can be switched off.

Conclusion: A basic and somewhat broken version of Trivial Pursuit. It seems designed for flatmates rather than families.

Graphics: They do the job but little more. The text is too small, it's not always possible to see the whole board, it can be difficult to tell yellow and orange apart and there's no option to use Miis.

Length: A Classic game can go on for a couple of hours with four players. Facts and Friends can be whizzed through in forty minutes. Pictures, maps and even questions can start reappearing after only a few games.

Rating: Judged purely on it's Trvial Pursuit merits, it's a 3/5. As a game in its own right, it's a 2/5.

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