Smarty Pants Review (Wii)

Sometimes appearances can be deceptive. In fact if you’re the type of person who looks at the review score before reading the review then you too will be deceived. At first, with the amount of mini-games, party-games and gimmick-games available on the Nintendo Wii you’d be forgiven for groaning at what on the surface looks like another one of the aforementioned, wheeled out to maximise profit and offer very little to an already over crowded table. Well you’d be right, kind of - because despite an extremely simple design and a total lack of effort in sound and atmosphere, Smarty Pants is actually quite a fun game.

Cullen what?!
Player 4 is looking smug. He must have the right answer? Do you know what it is?

It really is all about simplicity here. Simple, legible, no-frills design: point the Wii-mote at the screen, press ‘A’ on what you think is the correct answer, and move on to the next question. One of those games which is similar to Nintendo’s own ‘Touch Generations’ games where anyone and everyone can pick it up and play it. However, this is not to be confused with the sublime quality of Endless Ocean which is a potential game of the year for me, but more of that at a later date.

There are of course certain conditions attached to the three different game types on offer. If you play in single player mode, then I doubt you’ll get more than 20-30 minutes enjoyment out of it. Basically, you’re asked questions in which you have a time bar akin to dynamite fuse slowly running down at the top of the screen. Choose four answers in a row and you get a time boost. Then there is of course the...and, in fact, that’s it. You can’t even use your Wii in the single player game; you simply choose your character from a set of pre-rendered avatars that have no useful function whatsoever.

Yes, Smarty Pants is a game that comes alive when you are more than one participant, and being the sort of person that loves to reel off inconsequential facts after a few pints in the pub to impress the girls, this is the bit that I got the most enjoyment out of. The excellent Friends Mode let’s you choose category to that which you know your opponent doesn’t know anything about. You can ‘Buzz’ in (pun intended) and there’s a challenge card system which once used, means you can steal your mates’ questions or change the difficulty (which is basically the time limit). You also have to option to bet points on the outcome of the next question instead of having the simple fuse-timer. Have a ‘friendly’ wager before a set of questions really ups the stakes and ads a lot more pressure and thus banter, to the proceedings. Friends Mode though is dependent on the fact that you have two Wii-motes.

Those three green ticks mean you have three right answers in a row. Get the next one and you get a time boost
Here you can see the simple, yet purely functional design

Family Mode is just that; a good, fun game to play with your nearest and dearest. You all select your Mii’s, choose your height (God knows why) and set your age. The age bit is important as it then selects the questions in accordance with how old you are. If you’re a bit thick...erm, I mean stuck, the other members of your family can help you out by making gestures with the Wii-mote to slow down time. This involves waving, making circles, jumping up and down, the lot. I can imagine many a family sitting round wriggling about about like idiots to much the amusement of their kids. You can play with one Wii-mote, but the time you have between questions to pass it to the next one on the sofa is so slight that in a time based game as this having one Wii-mote per person is a must.

So despite the annoying announcer’s voice, despite the fact that graphically it looks as though it’s been knocked up inside of two weeks, Smarty Pants is a fun game. Brimming with over 20,000 individual questions sporting all the known categories from Trivial Pursuit; Art & Lit., Sports and Games, TV & Film etc. it is a game with a lot of life in it and more importantly a lot of enjoyment if you’ve got a couple of kids or if you’ve got friends who think they know more than you.

I know this! I know this!
I bet you the answer isn’t Loveboat!

I would say that some of the questions are very difficult (or I’m just stupid) and very UK-centric. So although the game is sold across Europe, I doubt many people living in Denmark, Holland and other English as a second language countries couldn’t have the faintest idea as to the answers to some of the questions, which is slightly disappointing - although foreign language versions are available. The biggest drawback with this game however, is the price. It really shouldn’t be a full price game and if you buy it a RRP you’ll be forgiven for feeling a little ripped off. Still, if you manage to get a cheap copy and you fit the requirements listed above you can’t go wrong. Don’t get put off by the final score here, sometimes looks can be deceiving!

Top Game Moment:
Answering 12 questions in a row.