Trivial Pursuit Review: Have Your Pie And Eat It Too
“Trivial Pursuit” is a game that has been around my entire life. For as long as I can remember, there has been a square, aqua-blue box sitting in the closet of my parent’s house, only to be taken out when my older brother needed his ego boosted. It’s a game that has been played by millions, even if they just asked each other the game’s questions while in the backseat of a car on a long road trip, but fans of the game know it well, and love its simplicity and challenge. EA is looking to capitalize on “TP” fan’s loyalty by releasing it for the first time on the current generation of game console, and, manages to hone in on the fun parts of the game, and exploit them to their fullest.
The recently released “Trivial Pursuit” isn’t the first video game released to bear the same name as the analog classic. Without delving too much into the game’s history, PCs and consoles from the Commodore 64 to the Sega CD have seen releases of the pie piece chasing game, with “Trivial Pursuit: Unhinged” for the Xbox and Playstation 2 being the most recent incarnations of the game. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve never played a full-on video game version of the game, but I have played many games of the original, including some of the DVD integrated ones, and the package that EA has put together in their latest release should keep most fans happy, while at the same time making the list as intellectual gamers’ party game of choice.
“Trivial Pursuit” offers three game modes; Original, Facts and Friends, and Clear the Board. As you may be able to figure out, Original is essentially the board game, minus the real-world board. It’s the same rules, same objectives, and same method of play that have been around for years. Facts and Friends is where the game starts to take a turn towards the party game scene. This mode changes up the style of the game, so that everyone is playing for pie pieces off of one pie, answering multiple questions in any given category to win that color’s pie piece. There is also a betting mechanic that ups the stakes, and tests how well you think you know your friends’ breadth of knowledge. Basically, you can guess whether you think they are going to get their questions right or wrong, in order to steal some category points for yourself, even when it’s not your question. Facts and Friends also offers “bonus events” which are basically power-ups and multipliers scattered throughout the board that make each round a little more interesting. The game progresses along clearing off different color chunks of the board every time someone wins that color piece, which is important when all six categories have been cleared off. The endgame in Facts and Friends consists of a fact-off, that allows you to use the pie pieces that you won during the game as lives, in case you to miss questions, and the last one standing wins. Clear the Board is the single player version of Facts and Friends, just without the bonus events, and actual points replacing the category points.
While the overall game mechanics “Trivial Pursuit” on a console stay pretty much the same, it still differs in a handful of ways from its board game equivalent. First of all, the set up is very minimal, as long as there is at lease one controller on hand, and knows how to use it – no cards to shuffle, and no pie pieces to wrestle away from the cats here. It also cuts out that whole difficulty of having to actually having to read the questions to each other, which usually ends up unintentionally demonstrating the literacy levels of everyone playing. And finally, all the questions are multiple choice, or some derivative there of, meaning that everyone playing, no matter what their age or knowledge level, has a shot at answering all of the questions. Take that as you will, but on the surface, those are the outstanding changes that make this version a little more accessible than the original.
If you aren’t a Pursuit purist, and can deal with those changes, there are a few additions to the game that make it a rather enjoyable experience. On the Xbox 360, you get to play as your avatar; while it isn’t ground breaking, any game that incorporates these personalized characters gets a gold star from me. Additionally, your “Trivial Pursuit” experience could be virtually endless, courtesy of downloadable content. EA has already released one, free, expansion pack for the game, and plans to continue to release more subject specific questions packs. Here’s to hoping that some of these DLC releases are inline with some of their more successful versions of the board game like the Pop Culture and 80’s editions.
While there are some things that “Trivial Pursuit” is lacking, for a video game, it’s still a pretty solid local multiplayer trivia experience. It would have been nice to incorporate some video questions into the game, here and there, but that’s not a huge deal since it can be seen as keeping the questions true to the original board game. The biggest overall missing feature is online multiplayer - however, again, purists are going to want to see the faces of their opponents as they crush them with their vast knowledge of sports and leisure. Overall, the console version of the game makes for a pretty fun, intellectual party experience, and fans of the game shouldn’t pass this one up.
“Trivial Pursuit” was released on March 10th, 2009 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, and Playstation 2. This review was based on the Xbox 360 version.