Trivia Crack (free, iOS|Android) is the latest game to sit atop both the free and paid rankings in both the Android and iOS App Stores. It's reminiscent of a quiz game you'd go to your neighborhood sports bar to compete in, and it has more than a passing resemblance to the gameplay from the classic board game, Trivial Pursuit.
Trivia Crack is definitely fun, but like so many apps these days, the in-app purchase system is disappointing. Fortunately, there's no fee to start playing, but getting rid of the ads might be worth shelling out the $2.99, £2.29, AU$3.79 for the ad-free version (iOS|Android). Either way, in-app purchases will probably put some people off and unfortunately, those willing to spend will get to have wrong answers eliminated and other cheats.
The first time you launch the app you're immediately asked to connect the app to your Facebook account. It's worthwhile because it's the best way to discover which of your friends are also playing. Trivia Crack promises to never post anything to Facebook on your behalf without your prior consent, though it obsessively requests your consent to share after each of your accomplishments.
Alternatively, you can use an email address to create a Trivia Crack account for syncing game progress across devices.
After creating an account, you'll get a brief overview of how the app works. You'll see arrows pointing to buttons with a text overlay explaining what they're used for just like many other apps.
How to start playing
Whether you start a game with a friend or get a random match, each player takes turns attempting to answer questions from six different categories. The categories are art, geography, entertainment, sports, science and history. In Trivia Crack, there are two different modes of gameplay: Classic and Challenge.
Classic is a turn based game, where each player has a chance to answer as many questions correctly in a row as he or she can. At the beginning of every turn, you spin a wheel and wait for it to land on a category. You are then given the option to spin again (extra spins are earned or gained through in-app purchases) or accept the category.
The next screen reveals your question with four possible answers. In the upper corner of the screen is a countdown timer that starts at 30 seconds. Tap on one of the options to submit your answer before the 30 seconds is up.
Answer correctly and you get to spin the wheel again. An incorrect answer ends your turn, sending an alert to the other participant. After three correct answers (or if your wheel stops on the crown icon), you're asked to pick a category for yet another question. But if you guess correctly on a "crown question" you earn the respective character for that category.
The best way to think of Trivia Crack is like Trivial Pursuit without the board and pieces. When you spin the wheel and land on a color you'll have to answer the question to get another turn. But if you spin and land on a crown, it's the same as landing on a pie wedge in Trivial Pursuit. The crown questions are the ones that matter most because if you collect all six characters you win the game. If neither contestant has collected all six characters after 25 rounds, the game ends and the person with the most characters wins.
Challenge mode puts you up against a long list of random players, and asks you thirteen random questions. Whoever answers the most questions correctly in the shortest amount of time wins.
The gameplay itself is a lot of fun. With no dice or pieces to move, you'll answer questions much more quickly that range from easy to extremely difficult. At times I've been able to string together fifteen correct answers in a row, which made me feel much smarter than it should have. Other times, I've gone upwards of ten rounds before getting an answer right. The interesting thing here is that most questions come from the users, so you never know what you're going to get.
The "crack" annotation in the game's title serves as a warning for its addictiveness and it definitely hooked me early. The only thing that saved me from obsessively playing was the simple fact you can only play a turn after someone has incorrectly answered a question. This means it can be minutes or hours between turns in some instances. As an incentive to keep playing, each player is required to take a turn every two days. Exceeding the time limit will result in the person forfeiting the game.
Of course, if you want to keep playing you can start multiple games with friends and strangers to keep answering questions. I tried to keep my concurrent game count under three to keep it under control.
Free vs. paid
As noted earlier in the review there's both a free and paid version of Trivia Crack. The free version is ad supported, while the paid version removes all ads.
Both versions, however, still offer in-app purchases for game upgrades. For example, you can exchange coins (the game's currency) for a second chance power-up. When enabled, you can attempt to answer a question twice instead of the standard one and done.
Another power-up is the Bomb, which eliminates two incorrect answers for any given question, giving you a huge advantage.
The game also uses the concept of Lives, which are used to start or accept a game challenge. You're given three lives every hour, with the option to purchase more if waiting for your lives to replenish isn't something you want to do.
So while the paid version of the app does eliminate ads, you're not free of in-app purchases. You also may come across players who have no problem spending money to get an advantage, ruining the level playing field.
In the roughly ten days I've played the game, however, I have yet to purchase any extra coins or lives. I've simply taken my time, answered questions when it was my turn and learned to appreciate the forced breaks. I also haven't noticed many people who have a distinct advantage, so maybe (hopefully) a lot of people skip over the power-ups.
Trivia Crack brings a fun dynamic to the tried and true trivia games such as Trivial Pursuit. But instead of some games where seeing who can rack up the most points at the end of a series of questions is the goal, the Classic mode allows you to play at your own pace with its turn-based setup.
For those looking for a fun time waster, or who want to challenge a friend to a contest of (mostly) useless information, this game is a great download. Just don't get caught up in the (potentially) expensive upgrades and add-ons and don't be surprised if some opponents pay to take you down quickly.