The pandemic has shown the necessity for party games, but challenges to our trivia muscles have always been around. Each one trying new ways to differentiate themselves from the crowd. In 1999, to capitalise on the success of the rising Austin Powers franchise, a themed trivia teaser was released to the public. One where shagadelic answers will clash to take home virtual cash, In Austin Powers Operation: Trivia.
The immoral Dr Evil has kidnapped Austin Powers, and has held him captive on a game show hosted at the Electric Psychedelic Pussycat Swingers Club. Adjudicated by an impartial mechanised host, with an overcharged charisma chip, called Host Bot, the two rivals compete in the gameshow aptly called Win Lose or Die. The goal is to earn enough money, by correctly answering question to be in the lead and win, players must match wits, in more ways than one.
Win Lose or Die is divided into eight rounds. You and a buddy (if you have one on hand) compete for money each round. The initial question helps partition you off into either Austin’s or Dr Evil’s team (though it is kind of obvious where they are going to put you). When the main game starts, you pick your choice of three categories with cryptic titles based on their subject. The player(s) must answer questions and generally demonstrate their general knowledge. Usually, trivia questions based on subtle details from the films themselves, ones that can be particularly tricky for a layman to guess. Yet Operation: Trivia keeps things interesting with different modes each round. One mode, Keep Away, where you and your opponent receive different categories and a slide show of things that could either relate to you or your opponent’s category. You can either pick up the item if it is related to your topic or knock it away from your opponent. If you pick wrong, you lose cash. In another round called Stop ‘n Go, here you are given seven items and you must select the ones that fit a category, exponentially growing your accumulated money as you pick the correct answers. You can stop at any time to keep the money but pick wrong and you lose it all. The final round, Crazy Chain, leads you from one question to another depending on the right answer regardless of your choice, with the most cash earned for guessing each correct answer.
Operation: Trivia expands its scope to questions beyond the (then two) Austin Powers films, though the game will still test your meticulous recall of the franchise. With around 500 questions to stump new and old fans, you will find plenty to keep you entertained, especially with new dialogue from Dr Evil and Powers. Although the quips do repeat themselves, that is kind of to be expected from the time and it is not so bad, especially considering how well Colin Mahan captures Dr Evil’s distinct style almost exactly, and a more or less accurate impersonation of Austin. Even after watching the films to prepare, I still found some questions devilish. Its quick-fire pace can make for a fun challenge, especially knowing that a wrong move can cost you, and slowness can benefit an opponent.
While the market today for trivia time killers is saturated, at least there exists a niche for those who wish to test knowledge in shagadelic style. Its broad array of questions levels the playing field, and its commitment to the theme is admirable. Party games like these can live or die with their hosts, and Colin Mahan does a fine job in not only guiding the players as Host Bot but emulating the winning personalities of Michael Myers. Operation: Trivia will get your trivia mojo grooving.
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