Simpson's Trivia

This is the big 10th Anniversary year for the Simpsons, and with it has come a plethora of merchandise.  Some of it good, some of it not so good - finding the good is the trick.  The newest item to hit the shelves is the Simpsons Trivia game from Cardinal Industries.

The game comes packaged in a very nice tin.  It features pictures of dozens of characters from the show, and is almost worth the cost of admission.  Almost - at approximately $16 at Target stores, you still need a little more.  There are 200 trivia cards, 25 character cards, 1 numbered list and corresponding poster of 286 characters from the show, and 1 six sided die showing Burns, Moe, Bart, Krusty, Wiggum and Apu.

The winner of the game is the first person to collect all five 'character' cards, one for each member of OFF.  How do you do that?  By answering trivia questions of course!  But rather than be just another Trivial Pursuit knock off, this game adds some interesting flavor.

First, you select your trivia level.  You have a choice of 1 to 5, 5 being the most difficult.  An example of level 1 questions - TRUE OR FALSE; Apu is the manager of the Kwik-E-Mart.  At the other end of the spectrum, an example of a level 5 question - The cat Snowball I was ran over by what brand of car?  Clearly, kids can handle level 1 and 2 questions, while most serious fans will be using level 3 and 4.  You have to be extremely hard core to give level 5 a try.

Play goes around the table, each person trying to answer a trivia question on their turn.  If they answer correctly, they keep the trivia card in their possession.  Play moves to the next person.

Once a player gets three trivia cards in his or her possession, they can try to get one of the elusive character cards on their next turn.  There are two ways to do this, almost identical.  Each of the character cards have three challenges on the back.  The player may either draw a character card from the top of the deck, or steal one from an opponent.  Either way, to keep the card they must meet one of the challenges on the back of the card.

There are three types of challenges on the back of each card.  You roll the die to determine which of these three you have to perform.  The challenges are: Show Highlights, in which the player must act out, Charades-style, either a chalkboard saying, particular character, or a show title.  If an opposing player correctly guesses it you keep the character card. Second is Chalkboard Art, in which the player draws, Pictionary-style, either a particular character, Krusty product, or one of Homer's favorite foods.  Again, opposing players try to guess and if they succeed, you get to keep the character card.  And finally, Ask Principle Skinner, in which the person to the left of the current player secretly selects one of the 286 characters from the mini-poster, and the player gets 6 questions to correctly guess the character.  But instead of playing for the character card, you are playing for three more trivia cards.  After two questions, you get one less trivia card if you win.  In other words, if you guess correctly with only two questions, you get all three.  If you guess with 4 questions, you get two, and if you guess correctly with the final two questions, you get one trivia card.  These trivia cards are then used next turn to try to get a character card again.  Getting stuck with challenge three is not a good thing - it means at best you'll get more trivia cards, and have to try again to get a character card.  And as there are some extremely rare characters on the sheet, your opponents will have no trouble coming up with someone you won't find it easy to identify.

Phew.  It sounds complicated - and it is, somewhat.  But once you've played, you'll get the hang of it pretty quickly.  While it's a little difficult to explain on paper, once you've tried it, it becomes much more clear.  Game play is pretty smooth, and both kids and adults can compete equally.

The tin is nice, but I really like the mini-poster of characters.  This is the same poster that was released a couple years ago as a Who's Who lithograph.  There's some mighty obscure one's here, like Doofy the Happy Little Elf and Surly Joe.  Unfortunately, the poster doesn't fit in the tin well, and so they have to roll it over.  I plan on framing it in a cheap frame, as it won't last long otherwise.

Overall - ***
If you and your friends or family are big Simpsons fans, and you're looking for something to do together, this game is the ticket.  I was pleasantly surprised that the game itself not only offered some challenge, but was more than just a simple trivia contest.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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