“ Genre: Strategy „
'Austin Powers.. he's the man for you.' He's certainly the man for Mike Myers since the movie, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, while not doing brilliantly at the box office, sold a whole skipload of copies when it was released on video and DVD. Enough to warrant a two further films in fact, and in an effort to cash in on this, Sierra and Berkley systems produced Austin Powers: Operation Trivia, a quiz game that uses the characters from the Austin Powers movies. And is it as funny as the films? Er, no. Admittedly, it would be hard for Berkley to come up with a game as good as the movies, but their previous successes with the You Don't Know Jack games suggest they could come up with something pretty decent. But unfortunately, Operation Trivia is somewhat less than a smash.
The premise behind the game is that Dr Evil has captured Austin Powers and has challenged him to a trivia contest in which Austin will go free if he wins, but the world will be destroyed if Dr Evil wins. One or two people can play the game - if you're playing with yourself then you have to beat a certain score and if you're playing with someone else then you've have to beat your opponent. You can play as Dr Evil or Austin Powers, with your opponent taking the remaining role.
Playing as Dr Evil is actually a better option. Why? Because Dr Evil has all the best gags (what few of them there are in the game) and is more convincingly voiced than Austin. But surely, how can Mike Myers not do a convincing Austin Powers voice, I hear you cry (or not). Well, because Mike Myers isn't doing the voices - he's presumably too busy cropping up in every single TV show and on every magazine cover across America to actually do the voices for the game, so some voice actor who has been roped in to do the job. And while this voice actor does do a very good Dr Evil impression, he does a rather poor Austin Powers one, sounding more like Tony Hawkes (the comedian, not the skateboarder) than Powers himself. Not a good sign.
There are a fair few questions to answer, and these come in four basic types. There are straight multiple choice questions, as you'd expect, which make up the bulk of the quiz. Then there are 'stop and go go' questions in which you have to choose the four correct answers out of a total of seven possible ones such as 'which of these actors have been elected to political office', gaining money for each one you answer correctly but losing all your money for that question if you get even one answer wrong. Next, there are 'keep away' questions in which you are given a category such as 'Lost in Space' and you have to decide which of the characters that appear on the screen match your category and reject the ones that don't. If participating in a 2-player game, then these question types are played 'real-time' where each player competes to buzz in first, much like the old "Jack Attack" questions from You Don't Know Jack.
And then there are the 'crazy chain' questions which appear at the end of the game and require you to answer seven or so linked questions. Again, in a two-player game, you each play simultaneously, but it's not 'cutthroat' - ie. both players are allowed to answer each question, but the results aren't displayed until the end of the round.
The actual subject matter of the questions varies somewhat - despite the retro sixties feel of the first Austin Powers movie, the questions cover trivia from the late sixties, seventies, the eighties and the nineties, with a few questions about the Austin Powers movies and are somewhat of a mixed bag. But given that the game was written a few years back, it's not surprising it's out of date. This may well be a bit of a drawback since unless you're a real sixties and seventies-buff, you may well be in the dark as to the answers of many of the questions concerning less-recent topics.
The trouble with Operation Trivia is that it's a rather average offering, and fails to excel in any department. The humour is composed largely of variations on gags taken from the movies and what little new material there is is largely below par - I suspect Mike Myers had very little to do with this game. In fact, the whole thing feels like it's been put together rather hastily - this is particularly evident in the fact that you can only have nine questions in a single game, meaning that longer quiz-sessions of the kind You Don't Know Jack offered are out of the question.
Without the Austin Powers license slapped on, this probably wouldn't have even made it to store shelves, and it shows. The questions cover a very wide time period, so you need to be knowledgable in both oldie and current pop culture, and despite Austin Powers' anglophile bent, the questions are so Americanised that it seems unlikely UK residents will know half the answers.
As a piece of Austin Powers merchandise and as a quiz game, Operation Trivia is a sub-standard piece of software and likely to disappoint. If you're an Austin Powers fan you'd be better off spending your money on the movies on DVD. And if you're looking for a good comedy quiz game then you're better off with You Don't Know Jack. Austin Powers: Operation Trivia doesn't have much to offer and ends up being an unappealing and not particularly entertaining load of Number Two.
(review written by me, originally posted on GamesDomain)