[1 April 2010]
Whatever the appeal of Twilight may be on the printed page or the big screen, it hasn’t translated to gaming success. Part of this is due to what publishers probably think of as a “soft” target audience. The teen and tween girls who tend to be the most devoted fans of Stephenie Meyer’s inescapable romantic vampire/werewolf series aren’t typically going to be interested in the run-of-the-mill running, jumping, and exploring of the typical film translation to video games. It’s not as if Twilight would even translate well to that particular style of play—the best case would likely be a Persona 3-style RPG, in which the player, likely as Bella, spends half her time navigating the travails of everyday life in high school and half her time dealing with the good and bad of the secret occult world around her.
Alas, this game will never happen. The people behind the movie would never be so daring with their prized bit of intellectual property, throwing actual resources into a game that will never be embraced by more than a few of Twilight‘s masses of fans. So, instead, we get Scene It? Twilight, a properly half-assed trivia game that’ll do just fine as a gift that moms can buy for their reclusive, black-clad kids.
Mass generalizations about Twilight‘s audience aside, Scene It? Twilight is exactly what you would expect: a DS trivia game where you answer questions and show off your encyclopaedic knowledge about the original Twilight film (New Moon is nowhere to be seen in this game—presumably, it’s being saved for a future installment). Its press materials boast “400 multiple choice questions based on movie clips, music and audio from the Twilight movie”, which sounds like a lot until you realize you go through 20 questions or so over the course of a single game. This gives you a maximum of 20 games without a repeat . . . and usually, it’s much fewer than that. Granted, the game is based on a two-hour movie, so one couldn’t possibly expect an endless flow of questions, but the limited supply certainly brings down the replay value of the game. There are unlockable promo pics included, but they seem like an even more tacked on than usual attempt to get people to keep playing a sub-par product.
As a single-player experience, Scene It? Twilight is predictably boring, not to mention lazily implemented. Without the thrill of competition, there is no urgency and no real goal to the thing other than to beat your own score. Is there any motivation for getting a high score?
Well, consider this evidence: in my first game, I surprised even myself with my apparent knowledge of Twilight (a film I have never seen front to back, I should add), and I scored over 120,000 points. The game saw fit to tell me: “You shine like a diamond.”
“Well, that’s nice,” I thought.
On my next game, karma kicked me in the ass and I ended up barely cracking 10,000 points, which is a wretched score.
“You shine like a diamond,” the game told me.
Well, perhaps I do shine like a diamond, but for at least one game of Scene It? Twilight, I did not. I actually resented the game for telling me I did. There is no motivation to getting a high score other than some vague sense of self-satisfaction. That’s it.
To its credit, the game seems aware of its own limitations, by only bothering to implement a pass-‘n’-play multiplayer game. This is smart. It does not require multiple people to own the game, and it only takes one of a group of Twilight fans to own it and a Scene It party can start. Theoretically. Passing the game around actually works pretty well, though the inability to see what the other players are doing makes it a passive game at best. You almost have to be doing something else while playing to combat between turn boredom, which can be a recipe for disaster in a multiplayer game that’s not all that exciting in the first place.
As of the writing of this review, Scene It? Twilight is the 11th most popular Trivia game at Amazon.com, behind such titles as THQ’s Fabulous Finds, a seek ‘n find title based on having a yard sale, and something called Wordfish. It’s one spot up on a kids’ spelling game that’s not out for another month. This thing is not selling. Whether it’s a matter of the Twilight crowd just not intersecting with the gamer crowd or the fact that you could get it ten bucks cheaper as a board game with far more video content, there’s just not an audience for Scene It? Twilight on the DS. It’s product for the sake of product—one more tiny little billboard for the movie sitting on game store shelves everywhere.