We choose to agree with the mob.
What do Game Revolutionaries do on Friday nights? Nick Tan, Geoff Hunt, and I took a break from our everyday escapades of boozin’, partyin’, and waterin' the money garden with crystal to grab some take-out food and pull out the TV trays, so we could watch a game show.
[image1]No, we did not all suddenly turn 45, and the year is not suddenly 1960. We were celebrating a beta test episode of 1 vs. 100, a brand new game show which will air this fall, giving thousands of MS Points and XBLA arcade games as prizes. At the very least, Microsoft is a jerk for feeding our GR weakness for buying Rock Band DLC, but on a large scale 1 vs. 100 could be the biggest new thing to hit home consoles yet - a real, live game show experience that’s open to everyone (with an Xbox Live connection).
In each “live episode” of 1 vs. 100, one-hundred bloodthirsty competitors (“The Mob”) surround a single player (called “the One”) in a battle for up to 10,000 Microsoft Points. It looks like “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, staged in a Roman gladiatorial arena, minus the deadly lions. I don’t know why anyone would build an arena-style pit without deadly lions in mind, but on the plus side, everybody gets to answer trivia questions and win prizes.
Answering incorrectly will remove your fool ass from the game. If the One misses a question, any players left in the Mob split the prize points; if the Mob fails, however, the One walks away with 50 whole horse armors worth of MS Points. So start studying!
[image2]Our questions for the beta were mostly very easy, full of pop culture and current events. The most preparation you might need is a little time with a recent magazine, some suppertime TV, or Yahoo! News. Our little GR enclave was able to Google Search a few easy answers, but the eight-second timer was generally too quick for even the Internet. You can also play 1 vs. 100 with any Xbox controller including the Buzz game show buzzers or Rock Band instruments, if you feel smarter hiding behind plastic toy drums than an encyclopedia.
The trivia seemed easy enough, but our experience with 1 vs. 100 was far from mundane. This game is adorable and it’s a riot seeing 100 brainy little avatars around the imaginary stage. Everyone is beating down the Y button to dance and point their thumbs down, and testers on the Xbox message boards are glowing about the thrill of being the One. It’s definitely a giant party, and crowded as well: seats in the 26-episode first season are “won” by playing the game, during live episodes or extra “Extended Play” games. Even with lots of episodes and multiple rounds of play per airing, I wonder about the odds of playing for prizes once 1 vs. 100 goes public in each territory.
Fortunately, 1 vs. 100 is a decent party in the living room as well. To separate the wheaty, wholesome contestants from the chaff, every answer is scored on a separate bonus scale, depending on how quickly they are entered. On the couch, 1 vs. 100 becomes a contest to have an answer ready the moment it appears onscreen, and this imaginary side score is essential to getting a seat with the real contestants. Anyone in the room can play along and help you get ready to answer. You can also form a “party” of up to four avatars where you can all “sit together” on the stage and play along - while only Gold-level Xbox Live avatars can compete for prizes, your party sits and plays whether each person is the One, the Mob, or the prize-exempt audience.
[image3]One of the nicest touches in 1 vs. 100 is friendly live commentary by comedian Chris Cashman. He teases avatars for their silly outfits, shoots the breeze with special guests and co-host Trixie, and frequently invites the audience to chat and answer bonus questions by email. When one player appeared on-stage in a Mario Bros. costume, Cashman crossed party lines and started geeking out about the 1993 Bob Hoskins movie, creating new email questions for the audience. The game occasionally pauses to show a commercial, though the evening was quite lively and entertaining with the flowing commentary and manic avatar dancing.
Our mad trivia buzz started to wear thin by the end of the two-hour session, mostly due to the repetition of trivia gameplay. When 1 vs. 100 goes live and real prizes are on the line, however, this is going to be a high-energy battle royale, and it is also generally a fun time for one or a hundred. Start practicing your Google and warm up that broadband connection for when 1 vs. 100 airs in the fall, or check out Twitter for information about the US Beta.