Hi Pop Pickers!! Alan "Bum" Fluff here, bringing you the latest 'pick an old wrinkly and slap a licence on him' game from Elite. Yes, it's Mr Grooviness and Fabbiness himself, Miiike READ!!! (Squeals of 'Who?' and 'Didn't he used to be famous?') with his Pop Computer Quiz.
As you can guess, this is the computer version of the TV pop programme (so good they cancelled it years ago) hosted by his wrinkliness himself, Mike Read. On first loading, you're faced with a number of choices, the first being whether to play in one or two player mode. Two player mode is the limit though, 'cos the other four players are controlled by the computer, and consequently one of the most tedious aspects of the game is taking your turn, and waiting for the computer to have the next four or five turns. Boring!
Next you choose your fellow computer controlled team members from a nondescript selection of portraits of people too old to be in a pop band. Unless it's Genesis, of course. Your specialist area is chosen then, from six unlabelled icons, which makes it a case of guess the icon hope for the best as you can't tell what icon represents what. Sloppy programming already, and we haven't even started the game yet.
As in the TV Pop Quiz, there are six rounds. The first is a jukebox round, where each team member selects a box numbered from one to twelve, which will reveal on of the icons, and the area for the following question. Get it right and it's two points, wrong and it goes to the opposition for a try, and vice versa.
'Spot The Star' follows, where three clues to the identity of a star are presented. Get it right after one clue for three points, after two for two, and three for one point. Get it wrong and it's over to the opposition again. 'Your Scene' is next, which for anyone under 25 means 'the area of music in which you are specifically interested.' Again, one question per team member, selected from 'easy' or 'hard.' Answer incorrectly and guess what? Yup. the opposition get a go at it.
Round four is the self explanatory 'Guess The Year' and round five the 'Quick Fire' round, in which you must answer as many questions as possible in 45 seconds. Finally, it's back to the (yawn) jukebox for the last round.
The major component of any game like this is, of course the questions, and unfortunately they just don't measure up. In a attempt to make this 'family' game the questions go back as far as the early fifties. This is fine if you can drag your parents to the computer occasionally, but let's face it, the SDLP has got more chance e of being elected than this ever happening.
There is also an incredible amount of metal questions. Presumably some muthah type person was in charge of question selection, and for every question about David Bowie, a major chart musician, there seemed to be about about ten on obscure metal bands who have probably never hit the Top 50. Hardly a representative selection, methinks. Not to mention the tons of classical questions which appear to have been chosen indiscriminately from some dictionary of classical music. Well, d'you know who wrote 'The London Symphony, or Les Sylphides?' Exactly.
Similarly, the gameplay is also not half as interesting or well thought out as it could be, firstly because you are limited to two players, and secondly because the attempt at faithful reproduction of the television version has been made at the expense of playability. It is, in effect, just an endless stream of similar questions, with little variety in form.
Sloppy design, uninspiring graphics, plus badly thought out and ill-researched questions let this game down. Not Elite's finest moment, and not something the programmers or designers can be particularly proud of.
One for pop fanatics and Mike Read fans only. If there are any.