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Smarty Pants - Wii Review

Game Info
Smarty Pants

Wii | EA | 1 Player / 2-4 Players (local multiplayer) | Out Now
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer)
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2nd June 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

With so many genres vying for attention on the Wii, it's of little surprise to find a trivia game pop up during the console's early years. When Smarty Pants was first released, it became evident that EA was attempting to focus on a previously-untouched sector in the Wii's general market. Now a trivia game may sound great, but is this game even worth taking a spin?

    The game's structure is very simple with three available options: Play Game, Options and View Profiles. The "Play Game" selection offers three different ways to play: a single-player mode, as well as competitive and co-operative modes for multiplayer games. Before the game starts, in addition to choosing such settings as game length, each character must create their own Mii profile for themselves. This is actually a pretty important step since the game will track progress significantly. It will record such data as which question sets you're best at, how many questions you've gone through, and so on. I applaud the game for it's question base which extends well beyond 10,000 questions, spanning across 8 different categories such as Sports, Games, Art, Science and the like. Overall, the game spans a large variety of question sets and categories are quite interchangeable amongst the selected age groups for each individual. 

During the game, you'll use the Wii Remote's motion controls to spin the wheel and buzz in for a question. You can even nudge the wheel to a category you want it to land on with timed shakes of the Remote. This is harder than it sounds when 4 people may be trying to nudge the wheel, but it's still a great addition that adds more fun to the game. You'll also stumble across item cards that can change things up a bit, allowing you to switch to an easier or harder question, gain more time on the timer, that sort of deal. Also, short mini-games will offer opportunities to snag a given amount of points from your rivals. You'll be shaking the Wii Remote to "dance", play a game of Tug-of-War, shoot targets and more. Although there is some variety here, it will likely get repetitive for anyone who isn't a young child.

    Naturally, single-player isn't the main focus in the game, but at the same time, the developers didn't try too hard to make something more substantial out of it. It can be rather abysmal at worst, and as such, multiplayer is the only reason to play this game. The multiplayer can be fun at times, albeit it only lasts for a short while. What makes this game especially enjoyable is the fact that questions are suited to your age group, meaning you won't have to worry about having questions that are clearly geared towards adults. Item cards can make the game a bit suspenseful when they're used at times when players would least expect it. For example, changing the question to an even harder one when you know someone knows the answer. Between tedious mini-games and "throwing" card items, it can get boring at times and when compared with other trivia games, this one is more likely to lose your attention if you're a teenager or older. But families should get a few laughs from this game.

While admirable, the game's attempts to mix it up (e.g., via short mini-games) actually hinder the cause. EA is commended for at least trying to make an otherwise predictable game into something more creative, but it isn't particularly fun for anyone over a certain age group. The short mini-games almost become more annoying than anything else, especially when you play a long game. Smarty Pants tries to justify Wii controls, but as a whole, it just feels tacked on. The entire game could've easily been mapped to button controls, and even just simulating the action of "throwing" a card for play is a bit much. It's all fairly limited when it comes to how intuitive the controls are and it becomes clear that the only reason for it being on the Wii is to satisfy the "casual gamer" market.

The presentation is a little dry in some areas, but in other portions, the colourful visuals are pretty good. The music, however, is not. As you play the game, you'll hear narrations from the pants-wearing light bulb character which can become annoying after a while. The mode selection in this game is a tad underwhelming, and had there been more variety, the game's longevity and overall enjoyment would have increased. At least it's nice to see the developers not passing it off as too shoddy.

    When this game first came out, I went on about how ridiculous the price tag was. I still feel sorry for whomever got suckered into buying this game for $50 or even $60 (in Canada). If you give it a rental for a weekend gathering, then you might find it fun for a short while, but little more beyond that. I will say that the idea of having questions based on your age group is a fantastic idea and I only hope future developers take notice. There are some annoyances to be had that may affect how often you play this game, but for a family this is a good buy if you can find it for $20 or less. Be prepared to have another game on hand, though, because more than likely, those who play this won't be fond of it for too long.

19/30 - Okay/Average

Gameplay 7/10 - Player-customized questions is a great feature, lots of questions and categories, events keep things varied, don't bother playing by yourself
Presentation 6/10 - Simple structure, average graphics, in-game narrations, silly forgettable music, nice interface, can be humorous at times
Enjoyment 4/5 - Delivers some fun aspects, annoying mini-games, using cards by surprise can make things quite surprising, fun for the family
Extra Content 2/5 - Three modes to choose from, stat-tracking tables, Mii support, replay value a tad lacking compared to other trivia games

Equivalent to a score of 63% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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Smarty Pants
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