|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 13, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
Smarty Pants comes into our living rooms as a new, laid-back, family-entertainment piece. It's not made for hardcore gamers,; it's made for the masses. Video games are becoming more popular, and families are starting to accept them as just another leisure activity; due to that fact, this kind of game is more successful than it used to be. It just seems right to have a trivia game as part of your game library so you can play with your family and friends.
Most families don't play board games together anymore, but video games are presenting new opportunities we should take advantage of. Thankfully, games like Smarty Pants for the Wii, Scene It? for the Xbox 360, Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree or even Rock Band and Guitar Hero are helping to get families and friends together again, providing some much-needed social entertainment.
Smarty Pants is an interesting title. It's not very good looking, super-entertaining or addictive. However, it has several good things going for it: It's user-friendly, easy to pick up and play, and the questions are tailored for each player - allowing players of all ages to compete fairly against each other. If you need a break from Big Brain Academy, this might be your best bet. Instead of testing your visual and reasoning skills, it simply tests your knowledge, just like any trivia game would do. The questions are divided into several categories, and the difficulty level depends on your age and that of your playing partners.
The title is loaded with 20,000+ questions that will make each game unique. Most likely you won't see the same question show up more than once; oddly enough, I did see one of them come up twice! The eight categories are pretty straight-forward: Science, Art, Entertainment, Sports, Places and People, Books, Games, and Fashion. Adding fashion and games to the equation was a nice addition to the traditional trivia game. The questions in these two categories go all the way from Who makes these popular fragrances? to What game franchise belongs to this publishing group?, etc. It's a nice break from typical questions like What's the capital of this country? or Who wrote this classic book?, which you'll also find in the game. Smarty Pants presents some extra pop-culture content that distinguishes it from other trivia titles, but it's not really all that casual; it actually has a good mix of questions that make the game more exciting and appealing for everyone.
There are a few game modes one can find within the Solo, Friends, or Family modes. Unfortunately, the Solo mode leaves a lot to be desired. You can only practice but not save your scores, and the character you choose comes from a pool of premade characters with little style or personality of their own. Smarty Pants was made to play with people; that's why all the fun was packed in the multiplayer modes, including the always-welcomed Mii support. Friends Mode includes the Wager and Countdown modes. Two to four people can compete in these modalities. Wager Mode will have all of you shooting at targets at the beginning of each round, right after selecting a category; the targets have positive and negative numbers and they'll determine how many points the next batch of questions will be worth. Needless to say, that's the amount of points you'll lose if you answer something wrong. It's always more convenient to aim at lower scores for categories that represent your weak spot. Countdown Mode is simple and traditional: the faster you answer the question, the more points you'll earn (or lose).
Family Mode is not nearly as fun, although it could be if you have a fun family and everyone is eager to contribute. It's cooperative trivia action for the whole family. Each player is given questions that are appropriate to their age. They all have to participate and try to get as many questions answered as possible before the timer announces you're out of time. While one player is answering a question, the others can make gestures the game prompts in order to slow down the timer. This was a bit annoying, especially because the Wii-mote itself, in addition to your TV speakers, often yells at you things like "Dance!," "Jump!," etc. I could have done without this, but at least it keeps everyone active and adds a bit more fun and goofiness to the experience.