First and foremost, I am a fan of trivia. I’m confused if you’re reading this and you aren’t, at least to some extent. I’m not a genius though when it comes to it – I’ve placed second once in a local bar trivia night and that was the highpoint of my success. However, I enjoy the random episode of Jeopardy, the ‘fun fact’ about a historical event, and those little calendars you get for Christmas from that one family member that have a trivia question each day. With that said, let’s move onto the review.
Trivial Pursuit LIVE is an adaptation of the very successful Trivia Pursuit board game. The basic premise is that you answer trivia questions to increase your score, gain category ‘pieces’, and win the game (in single player this is against 3 computer controlled AI). Questions are divided into multiple categories: Arts & Literature, Entertainment, History, Sports & Leisure, Geography, and Science & Nature. Often times, you are presented with a category, given the question, and given a time limit (about 10 seconds) to pick one of four multiple choice answers using your ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘X’, or ‘Y’ buttons. Questions vary in their point values, but answering correctly nets you those points. Gather enough points and you accumulate a ‘wedge’ next to your character. Accumulate all the wedges (6) and you win the game.
To avoid becoming stale, the game integrated multiple ‘mini-game types’ rather than simply straight trivia. Each game will start with the basic gameplay (called ‘quickstarter’) where the category will be random and the trivia will act in accordance with how I just described it. The last question in the category will allow the person who is in last to choose the question category in an effort to catch up.
After the quickstarter round, a roulette will appear on screen that will spin between one of the few mini-game options. The first type is one similar to the one just described, but where choice of category rotates between players. If you get the question right in the category that you chose, you receive double points. Straightforward enough. My personal favorite, Grab Bag, offers something unique. A number of answers are put on the board and participants go in order selecting an answer that fits the category. For example, the question may be “Was a Pixar Film”. The screen will be filled with options including Pixar films (e.g., Toy Story) and non-Pixar films (e.g., Despicable Me). If you choose an incorrect answer you are eliminated from the competition. Participants who continue to get answers correct may play until all correct answers are found. A different mini-game option with a similar concept is Grab Bag Blitz in which all participants answer at once. This presents the threat that you have to think quickly (and act quickly when someone steals your planned answer).
Another gametype instead forces you to put items in order. For example, participants may be asked the question, “Is the longest river in the world”. Five options will be placed on screen (e.g., Nile, Mississippi, etc). Users will go in order picking the river that they believe to be the longest. Given that you weren’t first up (which is based on current score), you will seek to still maximize your score by picking the 2nd longest river. Points are dispensed accordingly (best answer = most points, 2nd best answer = 2nd most points, etc, worst answer = no points). A ‘blitz’ version of this game also exists in which all participants answer at once (again, forcing you to think quickly and act accordingly when someone steals your planned answer).
Finally, the game culminates in an ‘either-or’ game. For example, players may be presented with two choices: Africa or Asia. The game will then present a clue. For example, “Contains the country, Djibouti”. Participants then have a short moment to press either their ‘X’ or ‘B’ button in reference to the correct solution. Participants who get the answer right continue in the process until only one is left (or a tie is reached). That participant(s) receives a wedge. The game ensures that this ‘mini-game’ will be played by allowing participants to only receive a maximum of 4 wedges through individual gameplay. In the event that two participants both receive 6 wedges at the same time, the tie goes to the player who had the higher total score throughout the game.
Truly, for a trivia game, this is an acceptable format. The game eliminates much of the ‘fluff’ that can accompany trivia games, while not overflowing the participants with questions. This allows for continual gameplay while still giving necessary breaks in-between questions to gain composure and refocus. It also presents the participants with a feeling of ‘choice’ in that they are often given the opportunity to choose their own categories. Finally, the switching of ‘mini-games’ is more than adequate, as it stops the game from being overly simplistic and repetitive. In addition, while there are multiple mini-game options, they are all relatively easy to learn and many are only ‘Blitz’ versions of a game already previously learned. While I was originally annoyed that I was always forced to start with a ‘Quickstarter’ game, which is the most straightforward of all the gametypes, I’ve grown accustomed to its simplicity.
Unfortunately, where the game struggles is its accuracy. When I initially played it I had some moments where I thought to myself “huh, I didn’t think that was the right answer, but that’s good to know for the future!” Yet these thoughts tended to persist. Checking the Internet, it appeared that other individuals had suffered the same fate (as I would Google, every once in a while, to find out more about something I was surprised about). To me this is rather disappointing – the game is built on, largely, a singular function. Therefore there should not be inaccuracies. However, a minor hiccup here and there does not detract substantially from the larger enjoyment of the game.
The multiplayer of this game allows individuals to play either locally or across Xbox Live. I was very pleased with the local option, as playing friends in trivia is what makes the experience enjoyable. As someone who is relatively new to the Xbox One, I was concerned that there would be issues with my lack of added controllers. Fear not! While you can each play with an individual controller, you can also choose the ‘single controller’ option. The game will pause, tell the players to pass the controller the specified person, and then un-pause when the individual hits ‘A’. While the method isn’t perfect, it is definitely a benefit to those with limited resources, such as myself.
Multiplayer is certainly more challenging than playing against the Computer AI in some respects, and not so in others. I tended to find that the AI would often ‘clump’, so that when I would choose a wrong answer in say, ‘Quickstarter’, I was severely penalized as the other three would choose the correct one. However, their speed in games that have ‘Blitz’ in the title are severely lacking, giving the human the upper hand. In Multiplayer, these trends are reversed. Overall, the game successfully integrated the multiplayer component into the game effectively.
You may have noticed the ‘LIVE’ in the name of this game. The game functions as a ‘gameshow’, in which there is a host. All participants are on some stage high in the sky, with a futuristic appearance. Participants are constantly moved around a spinning wheel and raised up on pneumonic pedestals. The characters themselves are caricatures. You can choose between the teenage girl filled with angst, the thin woman fashionista, the safari ranger, the large chef, or the Justin-Bieber look-alike to name a few. Each character performs various animations throughout the game when thinking or celebrating. While the game doesn’t exactly make use of all that the Xbox has to offer, the graphics are more than acceptable and quite sharp. Most importantly, they do not detract from the gameplay experience. I had no issues with reading any text that was presented.
The sound, on the other hand, quickly annoyed me. I often play with the game muted. In memories of ‘Fuzion Frenzy’, the host is often saying repetitive ‘catchphrases’ and dialogue that, while interesting the first few times, quickly wane. For example, in the mini-game that you choose your own category and receive double points if you get it right, you’ll often hear, when you get it wrong, “Oh! You could have scored double points on that one!” Nothing like a little salt in the wound. The background sound is set to that of a gameshow, with lots of quick-paced sounds, celebrating, and the audience cheering. I won’t say that the sound is a true detriment to the gameplay, but it certainly didn’t add anything that I considered worthwhile.
There are some other nuances that are worth mentioning here. Firstly, the game does well in incorporating your own statistics. Each player with a profile is assigned a ‘trivia rating’ which accumulates over time. On the main menu you can go into your statistics and see how many questions you’ve gotten right per category, the number of games you’ve won, your average score, etc. You can also assign your character a ‘descriptor’ (e.g., ‘Trivia Buff’) to emphasize what you truly enjoy in trivia games. The game incorporates ‘Titles’, an Ubisoft creation, which are essentially achievements for having completed a task (e.g., ‘got every answer correct in a Quickstarter round). They are a nice added bonus to the game.
Finally, I had no gripe with the controls, as they are largely the four main buttons and the thumbstick. This makes the game very accessible and simple to learn, even for the non-gaming family you may have. The game does well in offering an explanation how each mini-game works prior to it starting, allowing you to refresh your memory or play with someone new without having to turn on a tutorial. However, these are easily skipable with the pressing of the A button, which does not result in wasted time. There are essentially no loading screens once you are in the game, making it a seamless playing experience.
The majority of the achievements in this game will be unlocked through normal gameplay and require no additional effort on your part. Simply play and enjoy. For example there are seven questions related to answering questions right in each category:
There is also achievements related to winning a game, reaching a high (but not too high) trivia rating, and winning 25 cumulative games:
For the most part these ratios are in the mid 1’s to low 2’s. I enjoyed that they did not make me play the game differently to accumulate them. You’ll also get an achievement for playing a four person game. While this may be daunting to those of you with only one controller, recall my previous discussion about the ability to use one controller for four people. Therefore, even if you don’t have Trivia Friends, you can still complete this perceived 4 player achievement:
Yet there is two achievements that are an issue. The first is:
Unfortunately, the AI always tends to get at least one of the answers correct in a Grab Bag game. Therefore, even if you mark all the other correct answers, you will not unlock this achievement. This will force you to play the game in multiplayer in order to sabotage your competitors and allow you the opportunity to click all of the answers yourself. While inconvenient, this is not a terrible issue. The larger issue is with the final achievement:
Unfortunately, the best I can do, personally, is about 85%. There are simply too many questions in a 5 game round. In addition, it is necessary to not get an answer wrong in a Grab Bag category, which includes even if you previously got an answer correct and then subsequently got a later answer wrong because you had to ‘go again’. You also have the issue of inaccuracies I articulated earlier. You will thus be faced with a classic conundrum. Do you continue to play the game normally, as you most certainly do enjoy trivia, or do you go into the TrueAchievement forums and look up the answers as you play? The choice is of course yours.
For the ‘achievement hunter’, this game is a straightforward 100%. For the more passive achievement hunter, this game is a straightforward 63%.
1. Categories prevent the game from becoming too stale
2. Graphics are crisp enough
3. Lack of long loading screens or delays
4. Sizable number of questions
5. Fair scoring system
6. Competent, but not overly competent, AI
7. Local and Online Multiplayer
8. Relaxing atmosphere
9. Provides ample directions
10. Retains statistics
11. Most achievements straightforward and acceptable
1. Two achievements are potential issues
2. Audio can become irritating
3. Some inaccuracies in questions and answers
I’d recommend you purchase this game. $15, which is the current price as of writing this, is fair, but the game has been on sale multiple times at half-off. That is when I purchased the game, and I feel that provided a good value.