iPhone Trivial Pursuit Apps

Trivial Pursuit for the iPhone.

Trivial Pursuit on Your iPhone

We've all heard the tag line: "If you don't have an iPhone, you don't have an iPhone." Asinine commercial aside, you can't deny the truth of it. Everything these days is available in an app, from restaurant guides and GPS systems to programs to help you find music you'll love and apps to help you "hookup" with local singles. Now that there's a Trivial Pursuit app, you can bet that the trivia dork in your circle of friends will be sporting a fancy new iPhone.

But maybe that's being too hasty. After all, die hard Trivial Pursuit players tend to be pretty particular about their beloved game. Own a Genus III or Genus IV board? Good luck getting a real Trivial Pursuit player to respect you.

Sure, nearly 100 million Trivial Pursuit board games have been sold as of this writing, with games on retail shelves in 26 countries, available in every language you can think of from British English to Magyar. But Trivial Pursuit is, after all, a classic board game, and special attention has to be paid anytime you put together a recreation. Imagine the Eiffel Tower made of plywood, or Shakespeare's Globe Theatre built underwater--that's what an inaccurate representation of Trivial Pursuit is to those of us who live and breathe those little pie wedges.

How Does the Trivial Pursuit iPhone App Look?

The Trivial Pursuit iPhone app's "board" is faithful enough to the original--a center hub surrounded by spokes and a larger wheel with category headquarters, colored spaces that correspond to different question categories. Like some editions of the board game, there are 12 "roll again" spaces. In this app, you "roll" the die by shaking the iPhone, a common interaction between iPhone user and device. It's a nice gimmick, but not one that fans of Trivial Pursuit will find all that cool after the novelty of the first shake wears off.

The colors are a little on the neon side, especially for those of us that are used to early editions more adult colors. The questions are easy to read; this was a problem on some video game editions of Trivial Pursuit, when game designers seemed to not even think about issues of contrasting font colors and background color. More on those questions later.

All in all, the app's visuals are a pleasant enough interpretation of the original board game, though clearly the design was made with younger playing audiences as much in mind as older Trivial Pursuit players.

Problems with the Trivial Pursuit iPhone App

My biggest complaint about the app version of Trivial Pursuit is the multiple choice question and answer format. I owned a copy of a Jeopardy! computer game in the late 80s that required you to type in the correct answer rather than select from a multiple choice lineup of answers, so surely this app's developers could have avoided the multiple guess format. Trivial Pursuit die hards will reject any Trivial Pursuit version that offers multiple choice answers rather than an open-ended question and answer format.

In this app, three possible answers are given. That means you've got a 33% chance of simply guessing the answer to a question you don't know. This one detail will keep most Trivial Pursuit players away from this app, though it makes the game much easier for people who aren't well-versed in trivia. Maybe that's what the developers wanted ... a version of Trivial Pursuit that the biggest number of iPhone users would enjoy.

My other problem with the initial version of the Trivial Pursuit iPhone app is the low number of question and answer cards available. Unless an update appears some time in the future, there are only 1,200 questions in the game's library. That's equivalent to just 200 cards, about the same number as you'll find in your average Junior edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Trivial Pursuit iPhone App Features

The game itself comes in two different modes: Pursuit Mode and Classic Mode. In Classic Mode, you compete either against the computer (which seems unfair, considering the computer probably knows all the answers already) or against your friends over a WiFi connection. This is the standard Trivial Pursuit game, competing for pie pieces and attempting to get all six wedges and answer a final question to win the game.

Pursuit Mode is an interesting concept, one I'd like to try and replicate for a quick version of my Trivial Pursuit home game. This is another attempt by Hasbro at creating a party game: there's a new style of board with a set beginning and end as opposed to a round never-ending wandering board. The goal of Pursuit Mode is to hit the end of the board without missing any questions. Some of the spaces on the board double the total of your dice roll, and other spaces warp you to another part of the board, sometimes in your favor and sometimes not. In Pursuit Mode, there's no wedges to worry about, just advancing your way on the board.

There's plenty to complain about with the Trivial Pursuit app for the iPhone, but there have been a few updates, some to correct bugs in the game, some to add additional questions, and it seems like Hasbro and the iPhone app development team are committed to improving the game. I'd like to see a keyboard-input version for more advanced players, and maybe different question and category sets to make the app worth its $5 price tag. It would also be good if the developers created a board that was a little more true to the original design, rather than creating this eye-straining bright color wheel that bounces and twirls like its floating in a puddle. But as far as Trivial Pursuit interpretations go, the iPhone app is about par for the course.