Board game conversions to consoles are not known for their outstanding quality or innovation. When rating this type of game, one should first consider if there is any real advantage to playing the game on a console as opposed to digging the original out of the closet. Trivial Pursuit Unhinged
manages to make enough positive additions to the classic board game to warrant the attention of trivia buffs everywhere. The special features include celebrity hosts, multimedia questions, and some new modes of game play. Most importantly, Unhinged
includes online play. This isn't the best looking game around, but fans of the genre will be satisfied with what it has to offer.
In case you've never played Trivial Pursuit before, here's a short synopsis of the rules. Players take turns rolling the die which indicates the number of spaces that the game piece moves. Pieces can move in any direction on the wagon wheel board. The colored spots on the board stand for different categories of trivia and dictate the type of question given to a player who lands on these spaces. In the board game version, another player is in charge of reading the question out loud and there is no set time limit for answering. In the PS2 version, players have the option of a multiple choice mode where they will be given four answers to choose from. The classic "shout out" mode is also available, and after players speak their mind, the correct answer is displayed and a button will come up allowing them to input whether it was correct or incorrect. There is absolutely no typing, or input besides what was just mentioned. Players continue will continue rolling and moving their game pieces until they answer a question incorrectly.
The goal of Trivial Pursuit is to land game pieces on a wedge space. Answering a question correctly in this space will reward them with a pie shaped piece that matches the color of trivia category. A player is declared trivia champion when they collect all six wedge pieces.
Unhinged has three ways to experience this competitive trivia. Classic mode has all of the original rules and game play of the board game. Just keep your eye on the pie, roll the die and answer questions. It supports up to a group of six players who can be comprised of any combination of local and online players. Flash mode is a trivial pursuit mini-game that races players to the top of a trivia ring by correctly answering questions. Flash supports the same number of players both on and off line. A nice feature of these modes is that they can both be played by passing around a single controller.
With a slew of new game play options, Unhinged Mode is the best reason to buy this game. Special spaces will appear on the board and there is a bonus point system that allows players to work against each other. Each player is required to have their own controller in this mode, and the maximum number of players is four. Special board spaces include: A teleport space which moves game pieces to another space of their choice. Random Category spots will choose a question from all possible categories. 50/50 reduces the number of possible multiple choice questions from four to two. The recycling space allows a player to request up to two new questions in the same category. Sticky is a hidden space that will not allow a player to move until they either correctly answer a question in that category or get three questions wrong. Another hidden space is the bounce button which will pass your question to the next player.
Taunting another player's stupidity is not the only way to work against the competition. The point system in unhinged mode allows players to collect and spend points in an offensive and defensive manner. Points are earned by answering questions in a timely fashion. A counter representing bonus points sits at the top of the screen and starts at three and counts down to zero. Incorrect answers are rewarded with zero points. The Left and Right buttons can be used to bet up to two points either for or against opponents as their questions appear. At 15 points players can purchase a second die roll, at 30 points a difficult question can be replaced, and at 50 points wedges can be stolen.
Players also have the ability to "slam" other player by landing their pieces on the same space. A slammed player will lose a turn. This option adds more of a reason to attain extra rolls and land on teleport spaces. None of these features are as satisfying as verbally taunting another player's ignorance, but then, what is?
Going online with trivial pursuit is simple. After your network settings are in order, players are ready to either host or join a game. Classic and Flash modes offer online play for up to six people while unhinged supports four players. All of the options from the one player game are available for these modes as well. We chose to join a game and set all of the filters to "any," meaning that we were ready for trivia competition under any conditions. After a minute of searching we were presented with a one-on-one unhinged match and the battle of wits began.
One problem with Trivial Pursuit in general is that if one player goes on a role of correct answers other players are left twiddling their thumbs. Plenty of twiddling ensued when we were matched up against a trivia savvy competitor in an unhinged match. Betting bonus points provides a slight distraction, but unless you are personally familiar with an online competitor, betting is based only on the difficulty of the question. It takes too long to amass enough bonus points to do serious damage to an opponent's game.
Online play also supports the USB headset in classic and flash modes. Because no part of Trivial Pursuit Unhinged requires teamwork, the headset's sole purpose is for trash talking. In a game of wits, the psychological value of degrading your opponents can be immeasurable.
The menus in Trivial Pursuit Unhinged are bare, boring, and generally uninteresting. For a more in depth description look up "dull" in a thesaurus. The game boards for every mode are shiny three dimensional renditions of the classic Trivial Pursuit board. In unhinged mode there are some small effects to indicate special board spaces. Nothing special here, but it gets the job done. The multimedia questions add a little variety to the mix although some of the video clips are a little grainy.
There are rudimentary sound effects and some repetitive synthesized background music. Don't bother paying any attention to either of them. The only reason to keep the sound on at all is for the celebrity hosts who read each question. Hosts include Terry Bradshaw, Brooke Burke, John Cleese, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Nye, and John Ratzenberger. They will add their personality into the questions and comment on the quality of player's answers. Some of the audio clips are pretty amusing. For example Bill Nye will routinely taunt players for failing in the science category. The very idea of Terry Bradshaw asking trivia questions is humorous.
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