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Around the World - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Around the World

WiiWare | Wizarbox | 1 Player / 2-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now (North America) | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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Review
22nd March 2011; By KnucklesSonic8

What happens when a trivia game focuses solely on one question category, trying to make a whole experience out of it? Well, that's exactly what Wizarbox has tried to do with their WiiWare title, Around the World, appealing to a rather small niche of gamers who find interest in testing their knowledge of Geography. It's a very risky idea, that's for sure. If you're not careful, that single focus can make for a lack of variety, among other things. The developers have tried their best to prevent this from happening but in the end, Around the World falls short of the standard you'd come to expect from modern-day trivia games.

    The Main Menu presents you with two options for play: Solo & Multi. Playing on your own allows you to practice 20 questions back-to-back, while Multi is designed for a battle of wits (and sometimes luck) with up to four players. Both modes make use of different sub-bracket categories of Geography trivia, including Big Cities, Wonders, and Capitals of the United States. The structure is just a little different in what you're able to do in either mode.

    Beyond just brushing up on your Geography know-how, your goal in Solo Mode is to earn trophies on all five of the available categories. As a reward for your accuracy in answering questions, you'll earn a Bronze, Silver, or Gold trophy. The requirements for each of these awards are surprisingly reasonable, with a 70% percentile being sufficient for the ultimate prize. Clearly, the developers understood that not everyone considers themselves an expert on this subject.

    
Playing the game is really simple as you would imagine. The game presents you with a series of locations that you must mark on a three-dimensional globe using a pin. Pressing the A Button will grab and spin the globe around with your hand cursor so you can get a view of other regions. You can also zoom in by pressing Up on the D-Pad to minimize any room for error. Once you feel you've got a good idea of what the answer is, you press the B Button to put down your marker. 

    The amount of points you earn each round depend on how close you are to the actual spot and how quickly you come up with an answer. Emanating from that point are green, yellow and red zones as well as a box on the left of the screen which indicate how close or far off you were in your answer.

    If you think you know common Geography, guess again. In fact, Around the World can be quite humbling in a way. The game is definitely challenging, even for someone who has a broad familiarity with common areas beyond their province or state. The game does ask a couple easy ones once in a while, like the location of the Taj Mahal, but you're also tasked with identifying plenty of European areas and even small islands like Honolulu. Even if you're not too confident in your knowledge, though, you'll probably end up learning a thing or two on where these places are. 

    Unfortunately, you don't have the ability to customize your gameplay experience to your liking. There are no difficulty settings to select from, and there's no way to choose how many rounds you want to go through either. This is actually partly why playing on your own can get boring very quickly. You're required to answer 20 questions in a normal Practice session, which is a lot to ask when you really think about it. I suppose they needed to go with this number for the sake of determining accuracy more effectively. Still, the average player would definitely start to lose interest in it before a single session is even over. 

    The multiplayer component in this game 
is a bit more entertaining, but not by a whole lot. First up is Point to the Closest mode, which plays exactly like the single-player mode except with alternating play and fewer questions to answer (five to be exact). It's actually slightly more enjoyable here since the game doesn't drag on as much. 

In terms of simultaneous play, there's also a Quiz and Stop-Off mode where players answer multiple choice questions using the D-Pad. In Stop-Off specifically, you choose from one of four dots on the map, selecting the closest stop-off point between two geographic locations like Taipei and Anhara. When all scores have been tallied at the end, different icons will go across the screen at the same time to represent everyone's performances. These include a casual tourist and a cyclist. No records are kept though, so really it's all for "fun". 

    On that note, Around the World's biggest flaw is that it just isn't fun to play even when in a group setting. However, I think who you are playing with does have a bearing on how little or how much you enjoy this $5 game. If they're not into Geography at all (or at least not enough to want to play a game about it), then there's no reason to get this. But if you have family members who just love the subject, then it can be fun for a short while. Still, sessions probably won't go on for much longer than a few minutes. When you consider that the game feels a bit light on content, I wouldn't say that you're getting your money's worth with this.

    
Presentation is pretty average as a whole. The visuals have a decent colour scheme going, so that certainly helps the game in not becoming terribly bland. Music isn't worth talking about besides the fact that it's very repetitive to listen to. One important thing to note, though, is the fact that this game doesn't contain widescreen support. Instead of including a special banner or border off to the sides, all you'll ever see are two off-putting black bars which is especially unappealing in this day and age.

    Around the World is a prime example of really mediocre gameplay that could only be seen as enjoyable by hardcore Geography fanatics in very small doses. I'd still argue, however, that this game is too focused for its own good. Even for $5, I can't recommend this. Even if you genuinely feel your family will enjoy it, this game can get boring very quickly.


14/30 - Below Average

Gameplay 6/10 - Simple execution with easy controls, helpful indicators tell you how accurate your answers are, modes don't feel that varied
Presentation 5/10 - Decent visuals, nice-looking icons reflect your performance, not much effort has been put into anything else, lack of widescreen support
Enjoyment 1/5 - Solo mode drags on for too long, multiplayer is slightly more enjoyable but still gets boring quickly, a challenging test of knowledge
Extra Content 2/5 - Trophies to aim for with reasonable requirements, feels very light on content, no leaderboard to speak of

Equivalent to a score of 47% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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