Since its creation in the mid-Eighties, Trivial Pursuit has become the post-winebar pastime of Thirtysomethings the world over. Why? Probably because everyone likes to be a smart-arse, and what better way to prove it than by correctly answering hordes of trivia questions? Which is exactly what you must do in Trivial Pursuit.
Played on a round board (actually, it's square, but the actual playing area itself is circular) which is further split into numerous question boxes, each player must attempt to fill a plastic playing piece with different coloured segments and reach the middle of the board before the others. This is achieved by landing on one of the six special segment squares and correctly answering a poser pertaining to the appropriate category - you must have played it at some time...
All well and good, but isn't it annoying when you roll in through the front door with the boys and girls, all of whom are champing at the bit for an hour of two of 'Triv', only to find that half the segments are missing and the dog has chewed up all the cards? Domark remedied this a few years back with home computer versions of Trivial Pursuit - and now they're set to sell untold amounts of CDTVs with a CD-based conversion of the game.
No need to ask someone to hold the cards here: Trivial Pursuit - The CDTV Version has its own built-in Master of Ceremonies, called Russell. He's an odd-looking bird with a distinctly plummy voice - yes, he talks - who will be your guide right to the end of the game. Russell's rustled together a few of his friends, too, to read out the questions.
And what a black book this feller must have! Albert Einstein (Science), Mae West (Entertainment), Adonis (Sport), Napoleon Bonaparte (History), William Shakespeare (Art and Literature), and Christopher Columbus (Geography) are all on hand with questions at the ready and quips in abundance.
All the customary rules are there, with the player rolling the dice and moving the amount of squares shown. In the likely event of landing on a normal question square, a poser will be given, which must be answered within a strict time limit. Alternatively, land on a square with a dice icon and you are allowed a free throw. And, if you land on a segment square and correctly answer the trivia question, the appropriate wedge becomes yours. Collect all six and make it to the centre circle, answer a random question and you win the game!
It is in the question-answering where Trivial Pursuit differs radically to other computer boardgames. There's no need to choose from a list of possible answers - simply shout out what you believe to be the correct answer and then select the Reveal icon. The computer will then tell you the answer and ask you if that was the one you chose, at which point you select either Yes or No depending upon whether or not you were right.
This unique method allows fo an ability never before possible in this genre - cheating. There's no need to worry about running out of questions, either: Trivial Pursuit is supplied on two CDs, each containing 1000 questions, with extra question discs already in the pipeline.
With 550MB of available memory on each CD, the programmers of Trivial Pursuit have been able to run riot in the graphics and sound department. The first thing you notice is the animation of your host Russell and his question-asking cohorts. Although quite basic, each character comes to life on screen thanks to the many frames of movement.
What is technically very clever is the way in which their mouths move in sync with the spoken word - and there is a lot of speech in this game. How much? Try every question, every answer, and God knows how much more. Russell is never afraid to rattle on about something, whether it be informing the player to roll the dice, or making some scathing comment on the amount scored after the roll.
And, on introducing each of the question-masters he'll spend a good half-minute or so indulging in mindless conversation with them before getting back to the proceeding. Each piece of trivia has a picture attached to it, and some even have a piece of music or snippet of running commentary, too.
WHAT A LOOKER
Trivial Pursuit is a title that has obviously had an enormous amount of time spent on it - and it shows. If Commodore are on the lookout for a title that shows off their machine, this is the one.
The game isn't without its faults, though. The most annoying is while the screen is showing one question, the CD player occasionally zips off and chooses an incorrect piece of speech to go with it - imagine my surprise when, on hearing my CDTV ask me how many teeth does a human have, I looked at the question which was enquiring as to the colour of Yak's milk!
Other little gripes include some rather nasty flicker on the digitised graphic screens, not to mention the disconcerting and, eventually, agonizing click which blasts out whenever a new block of speech is loaded.
And there's a totally unforgivable omission - while Domark have stuffed the front end full of humorous graphics and sound, come to the end of the game there's not even a hint of congratulations to the winner, just deathly silence and a frozen screen.
Having said that, Trivial Pursuit is so packed with humour, especially in the form of the cynical Russell and his constant stream of witty, if slightly cheeky, one-liners (especially if you aren't very good at the game - he'll let you know in no uncertain terms), that all the problems, which would be extremely off-putting on other titles, pale into insignificance.
Obviously, with the method of answer selection employed, this is a game that is all but impossible to play on your own, but then again so is the real thing. Trivial Pursuit will wow your family and friends. It has all the features and content that we all expect from a decent CD-based title - none of your direct ports, here! - and with so many questions on the CDs, its longevity is ensured.
And just think, no longer will you have to suffer the indignation of scrabbling around the floor, looking for the missing blue segment!