Figuring out how to create a visually engaging interface when translating a board game into a video game can be a big hurdle. Trivial Pursuit Unhinged puts in some effort, but its focus is misguided. For most of the game, you'll be looking at a shiny, glowing version of a standard Trivial Pursuit board, and the camera will move around to focus on where the action's at. The problem is, the camera swings around kind of violently, which can be somewhat unsettling. The big missed opportunity in Trivial Pursuit Unhinged is in the multimedia question area, which is pretty limited in Unhinged to either tiny still images with lousy compression or short, tiny video clips with even worse compression. The Xbox version is too liberal with the motion blur, particle effects, and soft-glow effects, which, in combination with the rough camera, make the game downright hard to look at. The PS2 version has a cleaner look that's easier to digest, but the trade-off is that the game's pacing is slowed by lots of tiny loading times. So, you can either have a blurry, fuzzy version of the game that can be difficult to focus on, or you can endure noticeable pauses between dice rolls and questions. Your pick.
What's the point of including Brooke Burke if you don't actually get to see Brooke Burke?
Trivial Pursuit Unhinged tries to add a touch of glamour by having a different celebrity host read the question for each category. So, football guy Terry Bradshaw tackles sports & leisure, Wild on E!'s Brooke Burke juggles people & places, Monty Python's John Cleese gallantly asks the history questions, Bill Nye the Science Guy administers science & nature, Jumpin' Jack Flash's Whoopi Goldberg presents arts & entertainment, and John Ratzenberger--yes, the John Ratzenberger--delivers the wild card category. Most of the celebrities are either bored, or they're overacting, with the sole exception being Bill Nye, whose delivery actually sounds natural and whose trivial asides don't sound like they're being read off a page. It's quite reasonable to assume that the developers could've included more questions if they weren't limited by the cost of the voice talent, and frankly, the celebrities are a lousy trade-off for the frequency with which questions tend to repeat.
So the big question is, "Does Trivial Pursuit Unhinged improve upon the actual Trivial Pursuit experience?" The answer is a resounding "No." Board games are inherently more social than video games, and introducing an electronic mediator ultimately cripples the experience. That there are far fewer questions in Unhinged than in your average Genus Edition doesn't help, nor does the stifled pacing in the PS2 edition. If you want a multimedia Trivial Pursuit experience, pay a few bucks more for the Trivial Pursuit DVD Pop Culture Game, which is more dynamic, makes better use of the format, and, since it's a standard DVD, will still play on your PS2 or Xbox. As you can see, there are plenty of reasons not to buy Trivial Pursuit Unhinged. The game's sole saving grace is its online play. This may be enough to draw in a certain constituency of trivia-lovers (particularly those who don't have any worthy opponents on hand), but if this includes you, be sure to keep all the other caveats mentioned in mind.
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