Similar to trivia games like Jeopardy, the game allows family members or friends to buzz in to answer questions by simply raising their hand holding the Wii remote. The first person to raise his hand will hear and feel the buzzer go off in the remote signaling him to use the controller to point at the screen and select the answer. Each question has four multiple choice answer possibilities.
While Smarty Pants has a single person mode, this is a trivia game best explored in the two multiplayer modes.
Choose the "Friends Mode" if you want a competitive fast-paced game for up to four players. Within that mode you can select two scoring methods: Countdown (the point value of a question drops as time passes and no one answers) or Wager (a shooting minigame that allows you to control the amount of points a question is worth). Players take turns spinning a category wheel that includes art, books, entertainment, fashion, games, places and people, science and sports. The wheel also provides chances to win Challenge cards, which allow you to steal a question from another player, make another player's question more difficult, or even provide you with the ability to eliminate wrong answers. And if one player is trigger-happy, raising his controller before the question has finished displaying, and then gets the question wrong, he is sent to jail and can't answer for one turn.
For a more cooperative, friendly environment, choose "Family Mode." Instead of using the category wheel, players are given a number of questions to answer in a specific amount of time. Families can control the speed at which the time burns down as well as the number of questions asked.
What makes this a good game for cross-generations is that the game adjusts the difficulty of the questions based on the age of the participants. When you sign in, you are asked to enter your age. However, the questions are not formatted for children under age 8. As you play, the game keeps track of your progress, and adjusts the difficulty of the questions to your performance. This filtering works best in the Family Mode, in which players can be assigned individual questions. In Friends Mode, everyone is trying to answer the same questions, so filtering won't work as well. Friends Mode is best played with people who have similar trivia abilities.
Smarty Pants is a good but not a great trivia game. The 20,000 questions that are filtered by age is a plus, as is the method of buzzing in by raising your arm. But, for a multimedia game there is very little multimedia, as most questions are just written across the screen and then show four possible answers. The game incorporates some use of the motion-sensitive controller attributes in minigames like the one that has players facing off in a tug-of-war when they both buzz in at the same time; but most of time these attributes are left untapped. And the worst problem with the game is its price: $50. For what you get, this game should have been priced in the $20 to $30 range.
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