One buck buys a night of gaming

One buck buys a night of gaming

Who says you can’t entertain your whole family for $1 these days?

I rented a couple of video games like Smarty Pants, a trivia video game, and Bowling Pinbusters, a bowling game, from Blockbuster for one buck each, and the family enjoyed a lively night of video gaming fun.

Recall last week I rented four games and dropped them in the game room of 9-13 year olds who were hanging out during an adult dinner party. I returned later to discovery them mesmerized by Rayman Origins. What they didn’t play was Smarty Pants. Wonder why? No doubt the name was off putting. Nevertheless, I brought this Wii game home, and my family indulged me.

My father enjoys “Jeopardy” and my 10-year-old loves the game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader,” so I assumed this game would be a big intergenerational hit. It was.

With four bodies lined up on the couch, we aimed our Wiimotes, chose our characters, as well as their height and age, and played in family mode, which allows up to four players.

According to the game, the average family of four gets 15 questions correctly in the four minutes allowed. Questions are categorized – entertainment, science, sports, fashion, books, art, people and places, etc. – and it is based on age. The more mature got questions about music from the ’70s and Super Bowls in the ’60s. My 60-plus year old mother was asked about Pierre Cardin clothing from the ’60s. My 10-year-old was asked about more contemporary subjects like Harry Potter.

There are 20,000 questions, so it’s unlikely you’ll get the same question twice. I do feel the game gives a slight advantage to men. The sports and entertainment questions were more male oriented. However, when the game prompted movement to increase points for right answers, we ladies kicked tail. Players are prompted to dance, jump, wave or shake their way to more points. Although motions can be made with just your arm and the remote, it’s more fun to spring from the couch and do your thang. The kiddos get more into it, too, if adults become more active.

Smarty Pants, $14.99 to buy, can be played alone, but why? Unless you just want to prove to yourself what you know, group play is more fun. You can play against up to three others or in family mode, which allows a collective effort. You can choose the game length and type of scoring. By playing a shooting-range mini game before you start play, you can determine a question’s value. You can also play by spinning a category wheel, similar to the “Wheel of Fortune” spin for dollar values.

AMF Bowling


The second game for intergenerational testing, also not played during the adult dinner party, was AMF Bowling Pinbusters ($12.99). What I love about video game bowling is I don’t feel sore the day after from lifting and tossing a bowling ball at the alley. However, Pinbusters is a bit on the cheesy side.

First, Pinbusters really doesn’t offer any kid characters. Players choose from Sally, a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader type; Lenny, an Elvis Presley look alike; Big Money, a gansta in a yellow jumpsuit and lots of gold chains; Cody, a surfer dude; etc. There are eight undesirable characters for your choosing pleasure. Perhaps the most entertaining aspect of this game is seeing who you’re family and friends choose to be.

Second, the game moves slow. Between individual bowling ball tosses and players’ turns, characters comment and posture. Pushing the “A” button moves things along, but it’s still tedious. And because the characters are tacky, their comments and actions between bowling are equally offensive.

The family (fortunately we’re all right-handers because this game doesn’t accommodate lefties) played a bit picking from one of seven venues – Malaysia. All venues from the Wild West – Hollywood, Vegas, etc. – look like Vegas with neon, blinking lights and flashy surroundings. We bored quickly and quit.Wii Sports offers a bowling game, which is much more enticing, allows character creation, accommodates left-handed players and comes packaged with many others sporting games. Pass on Pinbusters, even as a rental.

Both Smarty Pants and Pinbusters are rated “E” for everyone. Pinbusters is also available for the Nintendo DS.