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Smarty Pants hands-on

Wednesday 25 July 2007
Smarty Pants is a family-friendly trivia game for four players, headed to Wii this Christmas. Developer EA Los Angeles has just been granted permission to use Nintendo's treasured 'Mii' avatars, so you'll be seeing your familiar self  scratching his or her head at any of 20,000 questions. When you consider that Trivial Pursuit's question count is around 6,000 questions, that's a big number. But Trivial Pursuit doesn't make you dance. This does.

Players take it in turns to spin the question wheel, by literally making a winding motion in the air and then letting go. It's a nice touch, but essentially redundant as every player can then nudge the wheel as it slows, trying to make it stop on their category of choice.

The inner circle of the wheel contains special cards, which allow players to eliminate one answer from a possible four, steal a question from another player or simply force someone else to answer, among others. The Wii-mote is implemented well enough, with a simple 'hold A and raise your hand' mechanic for indicating you know the answer, then pointing at the screen and clicking on your answer. There is a tug of war feature as two players make tugging motions in a bid to win the right to answer the questions.

Some questions require you to drag and drop words from one section of the screen to the answer bar, which is a good way to add some variety and skill into the proceedings, but essentially, this is predictable trivia fare. Bonus multipliers can be won, however, by dancing with the Wii-mote. We're assured you will have to stand up and do this, as opposed to the game's current tendency to award 2.3/2.5 multipliers for simply sitting still and waving the Wii-mote furiously.

The game will no doubt fit Nintendo's mass-market vision well when it is released, although there doesn't seem to be much to tempt players away from their PS2 Buzz remotes. Mr Smarty Pants himself lacks the personality of Buzz, despite his impossibly large trousers. And he's not really presenting it - more watching over the action from the corner of the screen.

We hope the game will be more 'smarty' than 'pants' after it's been localised for the European market and given the Mii treatment. It's currently looking adequate, but when Buzz is already so ace, this one's got some way to go yet. We'll bring you screens as soon as we get some.

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