They say knowledge is power and nowhere is that more apparent than in Trivia Throwdown, a game which seeks to emulate a fighting game and a quiz game all in one. The idea appealed to me. I had grown up with the Buzz series on the Playstation 2, voiced in Portuguese by Jorge Gabriel, so I wasn’t entirely unfamiliar with the concept of a video game quiz show. Sitting out after dinner to watch a trivia game show had been a staple of my family’s ‘together time’, in a casual, and not at all serious competition to see who could get the most answers right. It was something I usually won and filled me with confidence that, buzzers or no buzzers, I’d do well in Trivia Throwdown. After all, I am pretty smart, right? My hubris was dashed within 10 minutes of play.
My lack of success in answering the questions that were queried constantly, however, had less to do with the game and more to do with me. When I played those quiz games I had played in my youth, there was always a point where questions started repeating themselves, a point where my answers would come not out of knowledge but rather out of memorising what the right answer was. That hasn’t yet happened with Trivia Throwdown.
It’s one of the game’s biggest strengths. With over 2500 questions, and what appear to be more than a dozen categories, I have never seen a repeated question. Au contraire. What tends to happen is that I barely even have a repeated category. Due to the way the game is played, where you and your opponent take turns picking a category, there is every chance you won’t ever see one being picked, which is kind of a shame when Indie Games is one of the categories.
In fact, let’s talk about the categories, for they pull from the widest variety of assorted topics one might know or care about. The usual categories are all here, from History to Biology, and even Movie Trivia, but this game goes beyond the Hard and Social Sciences, this game leans hard on Pop Culture as well. That might seem like a negative to some. To put one’s knowledge of a popular tv or video game on the same level as hard-earned knowledge gained through compulsive reading of Wikipedia and a somewhat curious decision that could hamper the enjoyment, no?
I feel it isn’t so. Trivia Throwdown is designed in such a way where one can play to their strengths and try to avoid areas that they like less, or a lower chance of answering correctly. The game calls it “strategic gameplay”, but really it acts more as an accessibility tool. With several difficulties, and with each question in each category marked in terms of overall difficulty, I feel like anyone can pick up and play the game. Anyone who speaks English, that is.
This ease of access is something present in all aspects of the game, even going down to filters to turn down the amount of U.S. centered questions. The bias was something I felt I should mention, because not only was it something I had never seen, which spoke depths to how much the developer cared and thought the game through, but also because as an European kid with limited knowledge of U.S. Presidential History and Colonial Era, I immediately thought to turn it on.
Of course, as fun as answering the questions and picking categories in which I’m confident I know the answer, and cursing when the AI picks one I have no freaking clue as to what the answer even could be, it wouldn’t, I feel, be half as fun without the fighting game aesthetic. The game wraps itself in it, presenting you answering the questions as punches to damage your opponent’s lifebar. I loved the idea and, though it’s not particularly well animated or even focused on as a gameplay mechanic, it gave me a clear, concise goal to achieve. Answering more questions than those I got wrong had always been something I had to keep in mind while playing with Trivia, but with this aesthetic presentation I didn’t have to keep a mental tally as I could simply glance up.
I am not the greatest at fighting games, as I soon discovered whenever I went online. I don’t hold a dedicated Joystick, nor have I memorised all the moves on my favorite fighting game, but I do enjoy watching them played well, as I can’t play them well. I like watching them because it’s a spectacle of flashy moves, counters, combos, and juggling.
Trivia Throwdown manages to incorporate many of those elements through the simple act of answering questions. While not as richly animated, it quickly becomes clear that a lot of thought and effort was put into it. Answering several questions correctly in a row creates a devastating combo to your opponent’s lifebar, if both you and the opponent get it right, then you block damage, while if you get it wrong, you’re hurt. More than a skin, this even extends to the fact harder questions deal more damage. It’s entirely possible to chip away at an opponent, question after question for two rounds, or one, can bet big and try a nearly impossible question to deal a giant blow. It’s up to the player to decide how to proceed, in what is a strategic decision.
I will say this, having just gotten why the developers would label it as a strategic sort of game, I had great fun with Trivia Throwdown. Hidden behind what seems a simple aesthetic, and a unique gimmick, is a long, complex, and customizable trivia game which sits amidst my favorites. It does more than reveal to me what my strong points are in terms of trivia and what I need to spend more time reading up on. It was fun. I would absolutely throw down Trivia Throwdown as a worthy game.
Trivia Throwdown was developed by Eclectic City Games.
It is available on Steam for $6.99.
A Review Copy was provided by the developer.
Mcportugalem has awarded Trivia Throwdown the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.