Tom Baker's Ultimate Sci-Fi Quiz Review

As you may have noticed, we are now in the run-up to Christmas, a time when purveyors of DVD like to pull out all the proverbial stops. We get the gift sets, the over-stuffed special editions and the Yuletide specials which have always struck me as a rather odd gift given their intrinsically seasonal nature. Recently, however, the number of interactive DVD games has increased to a point where virtually every TV quiz show you can think of - and some you can’t – is represented in a version which can be played at home. Most of these are pretty awful in my experience with insultingly easy questions and cumbersome controls – and at least two have gratuitous Noel Edmonds, the kind of thing that no-one wants in their stocking on Christmas morning.

It’s nice, therefore, to find a DVD quiz game which has a bit of imagination and wit to commend it. Although weighed down by a silly backstory involving the need to get back to earth, Tom Baker’s Ultimate Sci-Fi Quiz is a very entertaining game indeed. It’s helped immensely by the towering presence of Tom Baker who first appears to explain said backstory to us. Given Tom’s customary self-mockery, it’s not easy to tell whether this is meant to be funny or whether he’s simply sending it up but I can think of very few other presenters who could have made it entertaining. It takes a while to get over how odd he looks with short, white hair – and a phenomenally silly costume doesn’t help – but the voice is as deep and rich as ever and it’s a pleasure to hear him read out the questions. Quite often, he adds some completely unnecessary silly vocal effects to the multiple-choice answers and it all helps to make this a cut above the usual DVD quiz game.

The format is quite well thought-out, with the requirement to answer twenty questions correctly out of thirty, and a choice of fifteen categories. These range from Literary Sci-Fi to Aliens and Monsters and there are separate rounds of questions on the decades from the 1950s to the new Millennium. The 500 questions vary in difficulty – the hardest one I found was “Sal Ponti plays which character in Atlantis The Lost Continent - but most of them are in the middle range and most people with an interest in the genre should have a fighting chance. If you get the question wrong, you’re greeted with a sarcastic comment from the on-board computer Lisa – who also occasionally comments on the answer, especially if it’s anything to do with Alan Rickman or Battlefield Earth. A good number of the questions come with a film clip and this is particularly entertaining when it comes to the extracts from various tacky trailers. There are plenty of questions so it should keep genre fans busy for quite a while.

Obviously, to get the most out of this DVD you need to be at least a casual fan of Science Fiction. But I think there’s enough here to make for a very enjoyable after-dinner party game and it will certainly lead to some nostalgic memories. It’s also generally suitable for families, although a couple of clips might disturb the very little ones – notably a bit from The Thing. There’s an option to play either on your own or as two teams. The whole Wormhole and Black Hole gibberish is a bit overplayed but I found that I could fast-forward through most of the jargon. It’s an old-fashioned multiple-choice quiz dressed up with some Sci-Fi trappings, but there’s nothing wrong with that – especially when it’s presented by the great Tom Baker.

The visual aspects of the quiz are pleasing with cheap but cheerful CGI effects and a nicely clear arrangement of questions and answers. The film clips are shown in a small window of their own and are generally in reasonable condition but it’s not always easy to tell. The new video extracts look fine. Sound is very clear throughout, sometimes too clear when it comes to the rather obnoxious sound effects. The main extra is a specification of the ship which you’re meant to be travelling in; a feature which I found rather peculiar but which may appeal to spaceship geeks.

It’s fairly fast to play but much will depend on your DVD player. I found the best results – as so often with games – came from playing on a computer. All in all, Liberation are to be congratulated for bucking the trend and producing a DVD game which is not only playable but also rewarding.

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Last updated: 21/06/2018 18:55:44

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