Version Reviewed: 1.01
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I don't know what cool kids do with their Fridays, but last week I spent mine at an Academic Team competition. You know—random trivia in a quiz bowl format. That sort of thing. So when I got home and saw Quizarium, it seemed like a fitting app to review!
I've already played (and praised) Charadium, On5's other title, which is an online iPhone incarnation of Pictionary. Quizarium clearly borrows much from Charadium's structure, but this time, it's an online trivia app. With Plus+ integration, offline play, and a variety of topics to choose from, Quizarium is a fairly comprehensive app. However, the lack of time-limited games and a mediocre question pool keep it from being as phenomenal as its Pictionary-style sibling.
If you're not familiar with Plus+, it's ngmoco's online networking system for the iPhone that includes achievements, leaderboards, etc. You'll need a Plus+ username to play Quizarium. Once you've got that out of the way, you can jump straight into a game. The main screen allows you to set some preferences (color, theme, auto-correct) and also displays a list of available lobbies. These range from the free-for-all "Lobby" to rooms divided by topic and difficulty. The list of topics is pretty solid, ranging from Science to Sports to Music. You can also create your own game.
Gameplay is simple. The question/answer box and the chat box are combined into the main display, and the rest of the screen hosts your keyboard. The game will display a question, and from there it's a race to see who can answer it first. Points are awarded based on speed and question difficulty. As time goes on, the game will reveal the length and initial letters of the answer as clues, but there are still plenty of cases where you'll be stumped.
Now here come my complaints. For the most part, the game flows smoothly, but there are still a few glaring problems. First, the keyboard lags, which can easily delay your answer and cost you points. Secondly, the questions simply aren't that good. Many have grammatical errors; others are simple confusing. Because only one answer will be accepted, you often have to guess what the game's looking for. Case in point: at one point, I was asked, "Ants live in a what?" We tried anthill, colony, and all manner of other guesses. It took almost all of the word being revealed before someone stumbled upon "formicary." In another case, "marsupial" was not accepted, while "marsupials" was. And what about this question: "Capital of an South American country"? First there's the grammatical issue with "an" instead of "a", but more important is the vagueness. Simple problems like these show the limitations of the app. The topics covered were pretty good, but the actual implementation...not so much. You can vote questions up or down, so hopefully the pool will improve with time.
My other gripe is a less important one, but it still bothers me. Currently, all of the lobbies are in an unlimited-play format. To have an actual round-limited "game" with a winner, you must create a room yourself...and even then, the game starts without waiting for others to join! And when you finish a limited game, the winner isn't even announced...you have to check the scores yourself. It seems like an afterthought, which is a shame; isn't direct competition half the fun? According to the developers, default lobbies with limited rounds may be coming in the future, however.
Don't get me wrong; Quizarium isn't a bad game. It's free (for now, at least), and it offers a number of excellent features like offline play, graphics customization, and Plus+ integration. And for the most part, the online trivia is a lot of fun. I just wish that the questions were better and that the keyboard didn't lag as much. As it stands, grab it while it's free; if this jumps up to a paid app, you might want to wait a bit before buying.