One of the basic jobs of a video game is to enable you to viscerally experience something that you couldn't or wouldn't be able to on your own. Similarly, if it's a more common activity, like football, a video game should allow you to play it at a much higher level than you might otherwise be capable of doing so on your own. Then there are the emulations of games that aren't inherently electronic but use the format to enhance the experience. This is where Trivial Pursuit Unhinged should fall, but the game squanders its energy on unnecessary peripherals, like celebrity voices and the titular unhinged game mode, and as a result, the game suffers.
The hinges have been removed completely from this electronic edition of everyone's favorite trivia game.
The beauty of Trivial Pursuit Unhinged is that if you've played Trivial Pursuit before, you already know what to do. If you don't, the game provides a superbrief tutorial that explains how you move your piece around the board while answering trivia questions in different categories, which earns you "wedges" for your playing piece. The ultimate goal is to fill up all the pieces of your pie. The game defaults to multiple choice answers for the questions, which may disgust Trivial Pursuit purists. To this end, the game also includes a shout-out option. Here you must respond to the question aloud and then hand the controller over to the next player, at which point the game reveals the actual answer. Then it's up to the other players to determine if the response you gave was close enough to the actual answer. If the other people you're playing with are jerks, they can easily make the shout-out option useless, but to the game's credit, this is as close to a regular game of Trivial Pursuit as one could hope for in this format.
If you're not playing with a group of bona fide trivia buffs, the pacing in Trivial Pursuit can drag, so the unhinged and flash modes try to alleviate this issue. Unhinged throws in modifiers at random--with effects that range from limiting the number of possible answers to changing everyone's location on the board--thus making the game a lot more random and chaotic than a standard game of Trivial Pursuit. This will most likely appeal to the novice, while it will simultaneously upset the pro. The flash mode speeds up the pace by basically stripping out the board game part, but it is slightly more structured than sitting around with your friends while going through the questions card by card. You can play any of these modes with up to four people, online or off, and if you want to play at the full six-player Trivial Pursuit capacity, you can play with both online and local opponents at once. Additionally, both the Xbox and PS2 versions include voice chat support, which helps to make the online experience feel a bit less sterile. However, it's worth noting that we had a very difficult time getting an online game going in the PS2 version, because there simply wasn't anyone playing. If the online mode is the big selling point for you--and you have the option--you're better off going with the Xbox version of the game.