January 11, 2008 - 4:07 pm - Posted by iDunzo
Let’s be honest: most themed games are junk. They don’t have to be good, because die-hard fans of whatever the game’s subject is– cheese, Pirates of the Caribbean, whatever– will buy it no matter what.
I was expecting The 80s Game With Martha Quinn (PC) to be a lame attempt to cash in on 80s nostalgia by cobbling together a half-assed collection of trivia questions about Max Headroom and L.A. Gear, but it’s actually remarkably thorough, well-researched, and fun. Color me surprised.
Though most of the questions cover the typical pop culture TV/music/movies trifecta, you’ll also find yourself queried about subjects like food (what were Honey Smacks originally called?), newsworthy events (Helmut Kohl was elected chancellor of what European country?) and not so newsworthy events (who won Bud Bowl I?)*.
You start your trip back in time by choosing from one of four different play modes. Each of the 80 different Episodes features questions on a single theme, like game shows, politics, or Tom Cruise.
Challenge Mode tasks you with achieving certain scores by answering questions in five specific categories: music, movies, tv, sports, and wild card. If you find all of that structure annoying, you can simply answer questions in Free Play or go head to head with a friend in Versus mode.
Questions come in three difficulties–Easy, Medium, and Hard– with harder questions earning you more points and “80s power.” Fill your 80s power meter and you’ll Level Up, which bumps up the point value of questions.
If you answer a question correctly, you’ll be given a follow up in which you have to guess the year in which the subject of the question took place. I really suck at that part.
The main issue I have with The 80s Game is its bare bones presentation, which is almost entirely text. Martha pops in from the side to congratulate or commiserate, depending on whether or not you got the question right, but other than that, it’s all just reading.
A category like Famous Faces would have been more fun with some pictures of said faces, and the Music Video questions are just begging for some accompanying clips.
What The 80s Game lacks in bells and whistles it more than makes up for in quality of questions. It digs deep for its trivia, getting quite specific about the plotlines of music videos, guest appearances on TV shows, and slogans for ad campaigns, so even “Easy” questions can turn out to be surprisingly challenging.
If only the quantity of the questions was on par with the quality.
Although it will take you several hours to complete the challenges and play through all 80 Episodes, once you do, you’re out of material.
The questions remain the same every time you play, tanking any replayability The 80s Game might’ve had.
When it comes to theme games, if you don’t care about the subject, you’re not going to enjoy the game, and The 80s Game is no different.
If you have no idea who Mallory Keaton is or couldn’t care less about Live Aid, then this is not the trivia game for you.
On the other hand, if you remember the words to “Valley Girl” or know who shot Buckwheat, you’ll more than likely have a good time with The 80s Game. Like, totally.
Besides, what other trivia game has “Lionel Richie” as a category?
* (Sugar Smacks, West Germany, and Bud.)