Smarty Pants Wii Review

With the festive period upon us what better time to release a trivia game such as Smarty Pants. It’s the sort of game that anyone can enjoy, yes even those who have been brainwashed by the media into thinking that every game is like Grand Theft Auto or Manhunt.

Following the delights of Christmas dinner (and remembering about Jesus of course) what could be better than whipping the Wii out and a copy of Smarty Pants? It’s social occasions like Christmas where such trivia games see the light of day, and with a Wii remote clasped in a vacant hand, Smarty Pants is good crowd pleasing fun. As Christmas is apparently a time of joy and togetherness this is a very good thing (of course, I’m not forgetting that little Jesus was also born on this very day).

Smarty Pants is a game that has been designed with all age groups in mind, and upon beginning you’ll have to let the game know how old you are. This isn’t EA being nosey, but rather a little piece of knowledge which informs Smarty Pants as to what sort of questions you are capable of answering. So, if you’re five, you’ll get questions about nursery rhymes etc, and if you’re an adult you’ll get more maturely themed questions. In a nice touch, if the game thinks players are doing well with a certain subject, the game will then decide to raise their age bracket accordingly.

The presentation is pretty basic, although it’s functional and likeable enough, and having the option to use Mii’s always gets the thumbs up from me (I know I’m easily pleased!) Perhaps those who have played the Buzz games on the PS2 will notice the blatant lack of an on-screen presenter (even the voiceover isn‘t all that interesting), and if I had been involved in the game I would certainly have campaigned for the light bulb in the baggy pants to have taken this role.

There’s three modes, including solo mode, family mode and friends mode. Solo mode basically has you answering as many age targeted questions as possible within the allotted time limit. Family mode is meanwhile a cooperative option where questions are age specific, with the objective being to answer as many questions as possible in the duration of the given time limit. It’s also the only multiplayer mode that allows you to use a single remote. Finally, friends mode places you in a competitive environment and like a traditional TV quiz, you’ll be buzzing in (holding the A button and raising the remote) when you know or think you know the answer to a question.

Smarty Pants isn’t just a barebones quiz game though, as there’s a few features other than questions to hold your attention. In friends mode you’ll be spinning a wheel to determine the category of the next set of questions, which is done so by using a cranking motion with the Wii remote. When the wheel stops spinning if it ends up on a specific spot you’ll earn yourself a challenge card, something which may very well aid you in your quest to become the titular smarty pants. If you have the I Know It card in your virtual hand, it’s possible for the question to become yours to answer. The That’s Too Easy card allows you to stop a buzzed in player from answering a question which appears too easy for them, and it’s then possible to make the question more difficult for the buzzed in player, just pray that he or she isn‘t clever enough to answer this more difficult question. The switcheroo card gives you the opportunity to change the question category into something more to your liking. The narrow it down card gets rid of one of the wrong answers, whilst the that’s too hard card presents you with an easier question, and finally the gimme a moment card gives you some extra time to come up with the answer to the current question.

Staying with the competitive streak of the friends mode, when these challenge cards are brought into play (by holding th B button and raising the remote) it’s not always instant joy for the user and tears of frustration for the other players. The I know it card for example, involves the buzzed in player and the card user in a Tug-of-War contest, not using physical ropes of course, but the motion sensing of the Wii remote. If the card user wins the question then becomes his or hers for the taking, although if the buzzed in player is dominant in the contest the question remains theirs to answer. The Switcheroo card on the other hand brings up a shooting gallery style mini game, wherein the question category can be changed by shooting icons of your preferred topic as many times as possible. The double points dance is the most different of all the cards, and comes into play instantly for a player who has spun the wheel and landed on its location, it then involves you acting like a idiot and dancing with the Wii remote, and the better your performance the more points you’ll get for answering the question correctly. This is definitely a game that is best experienced in a boozy haze or if you have a screw loose.

Smarty Pants may not be the sort of game that will please the avid games player, although I feel passing this by would be their loss, as this is an excellent trivia game that should appeal to everyone, whether you are male or female, 5 or 95 years old, play games obsessively or haven’t bothered with them at all, you owe it to yourself and your family and friends to at least keep an open mind about this one. Now on the subject of price, I have heard a few complaints about the game being overly expensive for what it is, although Smarty Pants includes over 20,000 questions and has fun motion sensing controls. Really it’s how often you think you’ll be bringing the game out: perhaps you can see yourself playing over the Christmas period but not much beyond that, well I can only suggest that you give the game a rental or wait for a price drop if you are one of these people. If you’re a social Wii user then perhaps it would be money well spent.

Now, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions, and I’m off to brush up on my food & drink, science and nature and music knowledge. I would rather not be embarrassed about my lack of brains over Christmas..