THE GAME THAT SHOOK THE WORLD
Trivial Pursuit - Domark
Disk £19.95 Cassette £14.95
I'm not usually a fan of computerised board games, as I prefer
playing them as originally intended - on a board, and with real
people rather than a computer, but Domark's computerised version of
the hugely popular Trivial Pursuit could change all that, as it's
not just a straight copy of the original. It actually uses the
computer's features to enhance the game.
If you don't know what the game's about, you must
have been on the far side of the moon for the last few years! It's
the biggest thing to hit the board game scene since Monopoly, and
enjoys worldwide popularity. I won't attempt a detailed explanation
of it here - let's just say if you can correctly answer a few
trivial general knowledge questions, you'll probably enjoy Trivial
Pursuit, and could even do well at it.
The program comes in high quality packaging,
exactly matching the style of the board game. Two disks are
provided, a program disk and a questions disk, the latter containing
some 3,000 questions in six categories. An illustrated leaflet
explains the principles of Trivial Pursuit as well as how to operate
the program. This version corresponds to the original 'Genus'
edition, but with different questions. Domark are said to be working
on other versions, including the Young Player, Baby Boomer, and
Genus II editions. The program runs on any 8-bit Atari with 48K or
more, and there's a cassette version available (if you insist).
MEET THE QUESTION MASTER
Two to six players (or teams of players) can take
part. Obviously, you can't play against the computer as it already
knows all the answers! The first job after booting up is to key in
the players' names. From here on, the computer addresses each player
by name when asking questions. You can also set various game
parameters, like time limit for answering questions, sound effects
on or off, and whether TP is awake or not.
Who the heck is TP, did you say? Well, he's the
cute little chap who acts as the question master. No, wait .... I
groaned too when I saw this feature, as cuteness in computer games
tends to turn to irritation very quickly. But in this case I
actually like having TP there, and miss him when he's not. (No, JSD
is NOT going soft in his dotage!).
You also have to choose the starting point in the set of questions,
otherwise you'd get the same questions asked every time you played -
OK if you want to cheat, I guess. The program has the facility to
skip through the disk sectors until you get to the required place.
It's worth keeping a note of which sector you get to in each game,
so you can restart there next time you play. The program tells you
which sectors it's loading each time it reads in more questions.
The game is played on two main screens - the
'board screen' and the 'question screen'. As you'd expect, the board
screen shows the playing board, plus the tokens and coloured
'wedges' (won by correctly answering certain questions) for each of
the players. Instead of throwing dice, TP randomly throws a dart
into the board, which has meanwhile magically divided itself into
segments numbered 1 to 6. The program then highlights all of the
possible moves the player can make from his current position. After
the player has chosen one using the joystick, TP trots off the board
screen and onto the question screen to ask a question from the
The question screen depicts a sitting room,
complete with furnishings. Some of these are cleverly used in the
game - for instance, there's a grandfather clock which shows you how
long you've been playing. The fingers actually move, and it chimes
every 15 minutes.
NEW TYPES OF QUESTIONS
Occasionally, TP walks across to a hi-fi set and
turns it on to play music to you, and then asks you a question about
it. As the music plays, a row of LEDs flickers and flashes on the
front of the hi-fi, a neat detail. TP also jigs about in time to the
music. A roller screen is attached to the ceiling of the room.
Sometimes TP unrolls it, dims the lights (another neat touch), and
projects a picture onto it, about which you get a question, of
course. You get neither the musical nor picture questions in the
original game, and these are the two major enhancements Domark have
put into this version.
Certain other features of the room are
entertaining too, such as the alcove shelves and mantleshelf. Each
time you go to the question screen there's a different set of
objects displayed in different places on them. Spotting what the
differences are is almost a game in itself.
The questions appear in a text window at the top
of the screen, with TP emitting strange babbling noises as each is
written out. Surprisingly again, I didn't find this irritating, but
you CAN switch off the sound effects if you don't like them. The
question stays on the screen until the time limit expires, marked by
a candle on a shelf burning down to nothing. You have to say your
answer out loud before that happens. TP then puts the correct answer
on the screen, and your opponents decide whether your answer was
near enough, just like in the original game. The program is told of
their decision via a simple YES/NO menu using the joystick. While TP
is waiting for your answer, he paces back and forth across the
screen, pausing and tapping his foot impatiently now and then.
TP's headgear is a source of amusement, too. He
wears a different hat for each category of question, and if you get
too many questions wrong, he eventually takes to wearing a dunce's
cap for your turn! He also makes mild comments about your
performance. Once more, Domark seem to have hit just the right level
with this, as it has a very low irritation factor.
The program keeps statistics on right and wrong
answers in each category for each player, so you (and your
opponents) can see which are your best (or worst!) subjects - yet
one more nice touch.
This game has given enormous enjoyment to everyone
I've played it with, from quite young children (who like it because
of TP) to senior citizens (no, that doesn't include me!) - It's one
of the few computer games I've come across with universal appeal,
and as such makes ideal family entertainment. It's great! Well done,
Domark! And thanks for bringing out an 8-bit Atari version so
Trivial Pursuit is available from Software Express
in Birmingham, who kindly provided a copy for review, or from your