In a world of ever changing complexity, the videogame world certainly ceases to be any different and that’s where the XBLA version of Wits and Wagers comes in. A trivia game for the non-trivia in all of us, plus a little bit of luck thrown in for good measure.
At first glance, it’s relatively hard to figure out what Wits and Wagers is, much less what its about. It doesn’t look like every other game out there, nor does it invoke anything of the past trivia(ish) games outside of the much often mentioned You Don’t Know Jack. Then again, Wits and Wagers takes a very different approach that’s ultimately something everyone can play and not feel cheated, because they aren’t a trivia buff hence the wager half of the game.
Once a game is started you’re presented with a avatar selector that gives you quite a bit of choice to pick from as your representation. Sadly, this only includes picks from different choices of “heads” you’d like to sport, but as one of the features of this game instills, you’re able to use the Xbox Live Vision cam as you head instead of the other choices making it feel a little more organic by nature. Following on with that is the presence of what can only be called the Achilles heel of the entire experience with Wits and Wagers in it’s Xbox Live Arcade form, the presentation.
The first few times you’ll play through a game of Wits and Wagers the presentation is rather refreshing to say the least. It doesn’t try to beat you over the head with lots of big and over exhausted flair like most games will almost certainly try to do to differentiate itself from the field. Unfortunately, that very fact is what will mostly likely grate on you over time with this game. Every time through you’ll be presented with the exact same presentation cues time after time, but if that’s a thing you’d not care about or even notice, the constant “station verification” of the announcing of “Wits and Wagers” may not bother you. Once you get passed all of the ancillary things about Wits and Wagers the only thing left is the actual Trivia game and it’s mighty fun once you get the gist of the rules which should only take a few go around’s before you’ll be betting with ease.
The first thing to know about Wits and Wagers is that you don’t need to be a trivia buff in the slightest. What you will need to know is what you think everyone else your playing with knows, and what I mean by that is rather simple. What you know is only the beginning. All answers to every question are answered wagered against how many chips you have in your stash. Every answer will be a number up to or closest to the answer without going over( similar to The Price is Right if that helps you). You’ll progress through 7 rounds of one question each until the winner is declared at the end by how many chips they have in hand. Sound simple enough to you? Well, it really is that simple. Calling this the perfect game so far for the non knowing non gamer is just about right. The only button you ever use is the “A” button with the “B” button used here and there for menu navigation. Other than moving your menu selection around with the left analog and the occasional right analog stick movement for your avatars appendage flailing as it were and that’s about it.
Tasked with answering each question isn’t what you’d think. Getting closest to the answer is all that you need. Each player in the game will choose there more or less “guess” then put down bets on what answer out of the lot is the correct or perceived best answer. Not matter what you pick, your still very much in the running to win big with a great bet. Put it this way, if you answered wrong by going over, but bet your chips on the answer you that was better than yours and it turns out to be the closest or right, you win your bet despite picking a wrong answer. Remember, the winner of the game after all rounds are complete are based on how much loot you have, not what you got right and wrong. Still, you can bet on multiple answers to lighten the risk of making a bad bet. Once you go through all seven questions and the winner has been crowned (which shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes or so), rinse and repeat the fun. The questions are quite varied and it’ll take you a while to get through all of the initial lot. Mine that all of this can be done over Xbox Live with up to six people.
With all of that said, there isn’t much to Wits and Wagers and that may be just the way you’d like it to be especially if your looking for something to play with the family. Being a trivia buff isn’t going to get you any advantage and there has to be something to say about that. Any and all are sure to have quite a bit of fun with Wits and Wagers, that is if you can overlook the presentation as it gets dull after the few dozen times you’ll see and hear it. All in all, Wits and Wagers is a great time in moderation as it’s clearly the best attempt this side of Uno on Xbox Live Arcade that’s easy for all to play no matter your skill level or “Wit”.
– Texture & Image Quality – 4 points
– Framerate Quality – 5 points
– Technical Effort – 2 points
– Overall Art Direction – 7 points
Audio – 20%
– Sound Effects – 3 points
– Soundtrack – 2 points
– Voicework – 3 points
– Sound Quality – 4 points
Gameplay – 25%
– Storyline & Attachment – 8 points
– Character Control – 7 points
– Interface & Menus – 5 points
Replay Value & Multiplayer – 20%
– Fun Factor – 10 points
– Xbox Live Features – 5 points
– Downloadable Content – 5 points
Achievements – 6%
– Challenge – 2 points
– Worthiness – 2 points
Above and Beyond – 2%
Overall= 76 out of 100
Wits and Wagers The Board Game review coming soon.
-William “thewilleffect” Bell-