Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good.
Anybody who remembers the very first Trivial Pursuit knows that the movie trivia in that game was touchier than a petting zoo. The problem was that the questions were all about really old movies, so if you happened to be born in the later half of the century, you were S.O.L. What color was the bicycle in The Bicycle Thief? Don’t know? Probably because you’re still alive. (Hey, that's a trick question. ~Ed.)
[image1]Lights, Camera, Action!, the video game version of the popular Scene It! board game, is considerably hipper than its aging trivia competition. Not only are the questions about movies made in the past two decades, but it is played with big-button wireless controllers that look like TV game show buzzers. Just what you needed, right?... more peripherals.
Scene It! was never the best party game (screwing with a DVD player and watching a TV doesn’t make the most social atmosphere), but it is definitely better as a video game. Not only is the interface smoother by having everything done onscreen, but there are some clever and fun new question types that would be impossible in the board game.
In the course of a single game, up to four teams are shuttled through a number of movie-themed trivia challenges. The centerpiece of these challenges is in the “screening room”, where teams watch a film clip and then answer a handful of questions about it. These are easily the best parts of the game, testing whether you've watched a lot of movies rather than whether you're a careful observer.
But the film clip questions are also the least frequent, with only two or three clips shown per game. The reason, one suspects, is that there are only a few dozen film clips in all. While this doesn’t impact the game the first few times through (the game tracks which questions it has given in the past), different clips of the same movie are frequent and make certain questions easier for the home team.
The rest of the game, thankfully, doesn’t require expensive licensing fees and is fuller for it. There is a good mix of fast-paced movie trivia questions, including some that require you to put movies in order of their release, identify them by their credits, or name scrambled images of actors and actresses. Here, having a quick hand on the buzzer and a wide knowledge of 80s and 90s movies will quickly separate you from the rest of the pack.
[image2]The most delightful new mode has you identify a movie from a child’s drawing. The drawing is revealed on the screen in stages, and the quickest to name it wins. The drawings themselves are frequently hilarious, the best being a cartoon rendition of The Exorcist, complete with question marks over the heads of the befuddled priests.
The game weights the final round much more than the others, and during the last sequence, correct answers exponentially increase your overall score. Since these questions are of the straight-ahead trivia sort, the biggest film buff will usually end up winning the game. After the inventive and competitive preliminary rounds, the generic and over-important finish is as big a letdown as The Matrix sequels.
Overall, the game can be fun and is considerably faster and more light-hearted than the sometimes infuriating other trivia videogame, Buzz!. But Scene It! won’t replace Taboo as the perfect party game, unless you consider four people huddled around a TV a party.
The manual suggests that you split your party into four teams, but since many of the game modes rely on quick button presses of the controller, only the player holding the controller really counts. So, there's really only four people at your party. Perfect for double dates, horrible for keg parties. (Speak for yourself! ~Ed.)
Also, even though the big-button controllers are wireless, if your TV isn’t of the two-thousand-dollar variety, you may still be sitting within arms reach in order to make out the game’s miniscule print. Since the game relies on so much reading (of questions, answers, etc.), the small font is an unnecessary obstacle. What is this, a reading school for ants?!
[image3]If you got that reference, then you’ll probably excel at the game. Movie trivia, unlike almost any other kind of trivia, is extremely generation-sensitive. Lights, Camera, Action! caters to a late twenties to early thirties audience, which is probably the smart move (dinner parties and board games fill up the hiatus between nightclubs and child-rearing in young professional life... trust me, young’ns). But that also means that it isn’t going to take the place of family board games like Monopoly where even the youngest tyke can screw grandpa out of his pension check.
A good import of a mediocre board game, Lights, Camera, Action! is worth a look for fans of the original game or others who are looking for a new game night experience. But it remains to be seen whether the nifty big-button controllers, made for trivia games, will get more action in the future or will be just more videogame-related clutter. Kinda like Fred Savage, come to think of it.