Review: Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition

Geek Culture

Photo: Hasbro

I love trivia games. I’m usually the lone dissenter when everyone else says, “Let’s play Settlers of Catan!” I enjoy some strategy games that I’ve played (such as Torres, Carcassonne, TransAmerica, and the like), but I really love trivia. Testing my own knowledge has been fun for me since I was a kid.

I can count on one hand the number of my friends that love trivia games as much as I do. I think that number is two, and neither of them live in the same state that I do. Occasionally people humor me and play a game of Trivial Pursuit, but it always takes so long that they’re complaining that we should just declare a winner.

“You don’t think this is fun?” I think to myself.

So for those of you out there who feel the way I do about trivia games, I present the new Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition. I own and have played most of the earlier versions of Trivial Pursuit, from the original Genus edition to Genus III to Baby Boomer to the 60s and the 80s and the Millennium edition, and more.

Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition has a very familiar look and feel. The board is laid out in the same way and the categories are the same as for the original Genus edition (with blue as Geography, thankfully!). There are some subtle differences, though. The color brown is replaced with purple and the pieces have curved tops, so the filled pie looks domed, and there is no way the wedges can get wedged in the pie sideways or upside down.

One new thing for this version of the game is the addition of a timer. It seems that this timer is what makes it a master edition. After a question is read to you, someone starts the timer. You have to answer before the timer is up. This makes the game a much bigger challenge, because oftentimes when I play Trivial Pursuit, it takes my brain a while to take the right path to the correct answer. Or on a team, we’ll reason out the answer, and finally come to the correct one through logic. Neither of these strategies are possible with a timer. Of course you can play the game without the timer, too, but the questions don’t seem to be any more challenging than other editions of the game.

I’m thrilled that they are continuing to put out conventional versions of Trivial Pursuit. But this version has some oddities. First, there are the usual two boxes of cards, but there aren’t enough cards supplied to come close to filling them up. Second, the questions are more modern and up-to-date than those in the editions I’m used to playing, but their organization into categories is sometimes way off. For example, a question about Twitter and Ashton Kutcher was in Science and Nature. I would have thought that would have fallen under Entertainment, but perhaps they consider the Internet to be Science. Another example that was in the Geography category barely mentioned France in the question, but the answer related to the movie Beauty and the Beast. Again, Entertainment should have been the category. I prefer my trivia to be about real facts and knowledge, not fluff. There were plenty of questions asking about real information, too, but it was all mixed together with questions that definitely won’t stand the test of time.

As with most of the other Trivial Pursuit editions, the difficulty of the questions is mixed. Some questions are quite obscure, but others are very easy. One History question asked what the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to do. Well, that’s easy right there. It led you to the answer. It would have been somewhat more difficult if they’d instead asked, “What did the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantee?”

Still, it’s nice to have a fresh version of the game with a new set of questions. This version also adds an interesting new feature. Some of the questions are photo questions. You look at the itty bitty photo on the card and use it to answer the question. Also, sometimes the answers to the questions will not only give you the straight answer, but also tell you more information about it. In this way, it reminds me a bit of some of the Datahead questions in Cranium.

If you’re looking for an updated version of Trivial Pursuit that adds a few extra features, you can’t go wrong with Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition. But it isn’t quite the hard-hitting, full of facts that stand the test of time game that I had expected it to be.

Trivial Pursuit: Master Edition retails for $39.99 and is for ages 16 and up. Younger kids that are well-versed in history and pop culture will probably do well, too.

Note: I received a copy of this game for review purposes.

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