The Ultimate British Pub Quiz Review

This review is significant for two reasons. Firstly because it will be one of the shortest I've ever written and secondly because The Ultimate British Pub Quiz is one of the most pointless DVDs I have encountered in six and a half years of writing for DVD Times.

Pub quizzes, a sport for people who find darts too physically taxing, are wildly popular with virtually everybody I know. I've never seen the attraction myself. If I go to a pub, I want to drink and possibly talk. I might even stretch to a game of pool if I feel like being humiliated. What I categorically do not want to do is sit down with a group of people who become moist at the very idea of being asked about the precise terms of the Treaty of Westphalia. Now maybe I'm hard to please but there's something about pub quizzes which makes my brain clock off for the evening. I want to scream at the 'quizmaster' that I don't give a fuck about the collective noun for a group of gorillas or whether or not George V's last words were "Bugger Bognor!" I speak from experience. Ever since I began writing about cinema, people have tried to get me to join their pub quiz teams, on the dubious grounds that because I know a bit about films then I probably know about TV and pop music as well. So there I am, sitting in the Old Priest's Hole trying to force myself to care about Amazulu's biggest selling single or who had a hit with "Could It Be Forever?" Then, to cap it all, I'm expected to miraculously produce an answer to a wilfully obscure question about the third season of "Hill Street Blues". If we win, I have to go again. If we lose, I get cold-shouldered for a week while people mutter about what a great expert I turned out to be.

However, the embarrassing bit about all this is that I really do like quizzes. So, thinking that the bit I didn't like was the 'pub' part of the equation, I thought that The Ultimate British Pub Quiz might allow me to enjoy a quiz on my own, at home, with a cup of tea and a couple of crusty almond fingers. Imagine my horror when I discovered that the game was intended to reproduce the pub atmosphere at home. After barricading the door in case this might mean six paralytic Leeds fans rampaging through my living room, I was reassured to discover that 'recreating the experience' simply meant the addition of some background chatter and the clinking of glasses to the soundtrack. However, such consolation didn't last long.

DVD affords several advantages to the savvy quiz games designer. It gives the opportunity to make use of large amounts of sound and video, allows the designer to create an imaginatively interactive gaming experience and offers storage space for a huge number of questions. Of these advantages, The Ultimate British Pub Quiz makes use of the third. At least, it claims to do so but I haven't found out due to the numerous drawbacks of this particular game. I do have to say that on the three occasions I have played the full game - i.e. a brain-shattering nine rounds of ten questions each - I have encountered the same questions on a suspiciously high number of occasions. Maybe I'm just unlucky.

The game begins by allowing you to choose how many rounds you want to play - three, six or nine - and to choose a level of difficulty - easy, medium or difficult. How these are judged is clearly a matter of taste but I'd expect a lot more from a difficult pub quiz than being shown a picture of 50 Cent and asked "Which rapper's autobiography is called "From Pieces To Weight". Indeed, throughout the game, the pictures tend to pour cold water on whatever enthusiasm you've managed to muster, all too often providing you with the answer to a question you might otherwise find tricky. As for the video questions, there is no sound and the video is simply background illustration to a question - often having the same effect as the pictures.

The interactivity stretches no further than clicking on a tick mark to move onto the next question or answer. The most bizarre aspect of this release is that it asks the user to record their answers using pen and paper. No multiple choice, no intelligent response system, nothing. We get the questions followed by the answers and the player is asked to check their own work. There's no on-screen scoring at all; you're simply required to tot up the correct answers and proclaim your own winner. Then it's back to the start.

The Ultimate British Pub Quiz is efficiently designed, quick and easy to use. The video is reasonably well transferred, albeit small, and the pictures are bright and colourful. But it has virtually no advantage over a quiz book, the possible exception being its use with people who are blind, have sight problems or can't read English. The questions and answers are all clearly spoken and those who are in such circumstances might get something from the game. Otherwise, if you're on your own then you might feel a bit daft writing down the answers and if you're in a group then you would probably have more fun buying a book of questions and sharing the role of quizmaster. I found it tedious enough to drive me out of the house and into a pub quiz team. Almost.

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Last updated: 26/06/2018 20:16:27

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