Most board games don’t make the transition to video games very smoothly. They are usually ways for publishers to try to make a quick buck and gamers get an inferior product as a result. However, EA has managed to keep the fun of Trivial Pursuit intact and even find ways to improve on its flaws.
The main menu offers three modes of play. “Classic” leaves traditional play unaltered. “Clear the Board,” is a solo, beat-the-clock mode for those know-it-alls who for some reason can’t seem to find friends to come over. Answering multiple questions in a row will lead to an even higher final score. “Facts and Friends” is a multiplayer mode in which everyone uses the same game piece. Only one person can have a wedge for each category, and all of the Roll Again spaces are transformed into Bonus Events. Landing on one of these selects a random event such as the chance to steal a wedge from another player or the chance to teleport across the board.
One of the downsides to Trivial Pursuit as a board game is that it can drag on for hours. EA has found some clever ways to prevent this, though. For example, in “Clear the Board” you can only land on each non-wedge-worthy space once. So even if you have persistent bad luck rolling, you won’t get stuck going round and round the board trying to earn all the wedges.
An even better innovation is the shrinking board concept utilized by all modes except “Classic”. When you win a wedge, all of the spaces for that category disappear and the board gets a little smaller. So no time has to be wasted on categories that are no longer relevant. This is a great preemptive strike against the typical boredom that sets in when playing Trivial Pursuit non-virtually.
In “Facts and Friends” it is possible to get a wedge without ever landing on a wedge space. Points can be earned several ways, and it only takes four points in a category to achieve a wedge. A right answer on a normal wedge is worth two points. On an opponent’s turn you can win a point by correctly predicting if they will be right or wrong. You can even steal points if you answer correctly after someone else gets a question wrong.
To win this intensely competitive mode the players must collectively earn all six wedges. Once this happens, a final round requires everyone to answer the same question at the same time. Each wedge you previously won works like a life, and getting the question wrong costs you one life. Whoever lasts the longest in this series of questions from random categories is declared the winner.
While playing, arbitrary facts roll across the bottom of the screen, such as how many questions a player has answered or what percentage of entertainment questions they have gotten right. The game even saves some of these stats in players’ profiles so you can prove to anyone at any time just how amazing you are. Fortunately it is possible to stop playing and save multiple ongoing games.