Test The Nation Review
Starting a few years back with the grand IQ test, it seems that Anne Robinson can't keep herself from fronting these never-ending televisual events. Still it allows the masses to congregate in front of the TV and find out who is the smartest, most knowledgeable or most in need of a life. With Christmas approaching the current double DVD set contains the Great British test and the National IQ test as a bonus.
The first DVD starts out quite well with Anne Robinson telling us how to do the test. We begin with two options: Single Player or Multi Player. Having made that choice we are zoomed off via some computer graphics to face Anne Robinson yet again to introduce the first of five rounds of questions (each contain 15 questions). The sections are as follows:
- Fittingly British - questions about various Britons or British traditions
- British at play - games and film trivia
- Our Britain - localised knowledge from all over the UK
- Great Britons - trivia about our famous people
- Last Orders - which seems like a pick and mix of questions.
On the plus side, there seems to be a good range of questions. Some are astonishingly obscure whereas others are much run of the mill pub quiz fodder though on the whole, the questions were relatively biased towards an older generation with quite a few questions about decimalisation and pre-80s trivia. There's supposed to be 1000 questions available which seems like a fair amount though I noticed some redundancy in some of the questions I was being asked. Video clips and photos are used relatively often (about one every 5 or 6 questions) but they are often not fully relevant to the question. I suppose that does give the product a more professional sheen but I can see them getting a tad irritating on the long run.
More annoying was the difference between Single and Multi player games - if you do it solo, you just get your score at the end - no answers to the questions which is very frustrating. On the multi-player version, however, every round is followed by a correction session which takes you through the answers. This does make the Multi-player game a tad longer to get through than a single player game (the manufacturer say 40 and 50 mins respectively which sounds about right) but it's also more satisfying - after all, whoever imagined a quiz where you don't get any of the answers? Another problem cropped up on my DVD player - the access times between questions was poor. I tried the test on two different DVD players but both struggled to come up with the questions at a decent speed. I imagine this is part of the randomisation of questions which means the DVD must seek a different track for each little segment but I noted times as long as 5-8 seconds between the end of one question and the beginning of the next. A huge problem that has plagued a lot of interactive DVD features. If your DVD player is quite zippy, then it should not be a problem but my trusty Pioneer is obviously not one of those. This issue completely disappeared when I put the DVD onto my computer - probably due to better read-ahead and speed.
The second DVD is quite similar to the first only this time we have an IQ test instead. The richness of the first DVD is replaced with a single use test as the questions are always the same with no randomisation possible. The time pressure is strict so it did mean I messed up quite a few questions more due to my lack of dexterity rather than lack of brightness (unless that was part of the test) so I felt that once again the multi player option was the best way to go even though you missed out on the possibility of getting your IQ calculated for you by the DVD player.
I did have a few issues with these discs (see the review) so depending on your setup and patience, these problems could be a showstopper or an unnoticeable glitch. The content is well presented and is a decent enough attempt at bringing the Test The Nation series to your home with the added bonus of being able to skip the Anne Robinson bits.