iPad Game Review: Scene It? Horror HD Reviewed by Guy Dayen
The well-known DVD game series Scene It? returns to the iPad with a second game, this time focused on horror movies. Questions concentrate heavily on films from the last two decades, but fans of older films will also find a few questions to tickle their brains. If you're a film buff and enjoy casual games, you will be pleased with this offering. Occasional moviegoers should also be fine playing the game, as every movie in here has been in wide circulation, and has been dissected by Internet fanboys many times over. You won't find obscure references to movies that only a handful of people saw at a midnight movie in Hoboken that one time?and that?s a good thing. Some trivia games rely way too much on minutiae, and it results in nothing but frustration for all but the most rabid trivia masters. This game offers a good balance of difficulty and casual fun, and it?s just the thing for your upcoming Halloween party or ghoulish get-together.
Anyone who?s played one of the Scene It? games will be in familiar territory, but for those players who have never tried the game, here?s a short summary. The game consists of a set of thirty rounds, using fifteen different puzzle types, all testing your knowledge of classic and modern horror movies, with a heavy emphasis on the last twenty years. Some of these mini-games use short movie clips, some use sound bytes (the animation for that sound byte player is way cool, by the way...), others use animated sequences, and still more use stills and posters.
Some mini-games are closer to traditional trivia; for example, some ask you to complete movie quotes, and some others ask you to associate factoids or lines of dialogue to the correct movie. There is a good variety of questions, and the mini-games are different enough to keep players interested over the course of a few games.
All of the mini-games are timed, and the faster an answer is given, the more points are earned. You accumulate points as you progress through the various puzzles. High scores can be posted on Facebook to challenge your friends. These Facebook scores can also be converted to Glitz points to accumulate even more bragging rights.
You can play in Single Player mode, simply answering questions and accumulating points. There is also a ?Death Match? group mode where up to four people can compete against each other on the same iPad, or a Multiplayer head-to-head mode over local wi-fi or Bluetooth that can also accommodate up to four players.
One thing to keep in mind is that there are about 30 full-screen movie clips in the game, so the file size is a hefty 532 MB! Those people with crowded iPads (like me...) beware; this game is a real space hog. Another larger issue is the lack of replay value. This is an issue that I mentioned in my review of the first SceneIt game, which focused on comedies; I?ll touch on that below, in the game summary section of this review.
The graphic design of Scene It? Horror HD is very well-done, and incredibly atmospheric. Everything from the main menu to game screens to transition screens drips with Victorian inspired funerary goodness. The whole look and feel is suitably creepy. The opening animation is very fluid and fun to watch. The movie clips play very well on the iPad, and are near-DVD quality. The animated clips might seem a little crude compared to the rest of the graphics in the game, as they are done in a retro pixel-art style, but it doesn?t detract from the gameplay. The only problem I have with the graphics is that the transition scenes go by very quickly, and there is no time to appreciate the creativity that went into creating them. It?s too bad, because they are quite nicely done.
The controls are very simple, and very responsive. The timer is a crawling insect, its path indicating the time ticking away. Everything feels very natural on the iPad; it?s much less cumbersome and much easier to play than the DVD version, and you don?t need all that external equipment to play.
The music and sound effects in Scene It? Horror are very reminiscent of a scary movie, or of a haunted house attraction. The overall sound design, with its creepy music and scary sound effects and screams would contribute greatly to creating a perfect Halloween party atmosphere. This second edition in the SceneIt series includes something new: a ?Scream Machine?, so you can produce your own spook show if you wish. I can see this being great fun during Trick or Treat, with the iPad paired with a powerful wireless outdoor speaker or two. Let?s see how the kiddies react when they come up to your door and the howling starts!!! Ahh, good clean undead fun indeed.
The only sound options are to control the volume of the music and effects. You cannot use your iPad?s music, but this is not the kind of game where you want your music anyway. For some of the mini-games, you have to listen to the dialogue in the movie clips to be able to answer the questions correctly. For other types of games, you have to pay attention and concentrate, and since the games are timed, there?s no time to listen to your favorite chorus. Get with it, or the points will melt away like flesh on a decomposing corpse.
This is a must-have if you?re planning a Halloween get-together, and you want a game to play that won?t be deemed lame. It?s a fun game to play by yourself, but it?s much, much better played against an opponent or with a group of fiends. There are many trivia apps in the iTunes store, and this is definitely one of the better ones. As mentioned above, even casual moviegoers will stand a good chance in the game, so it is suitable for everyone who likes movie horror. It may not be appropriate for all ages, however, as some of the scenes are quite scary. Parents of impressionable children should be advised - if you didn?t let them see the films, you probably shouldn?t let them play the game. They wouldn?t know any of the answers anyway, and where?s the fun in that?
That said, I have a couple of issues with this game. The biggest problem for me, and this is a gripe was also in our review of the SceneIt Comedy HD edition, is the lack of replay value. You see, each match is exactly the same every time you play it. This means that once you have played a match, you?ve seen all the questions and you know all the answers (assuming you have anything approaching average memory capacity); there is no random gameplay at all, and that is quite a drawback to a trivia game of this size. I would much rather have a more varied gameplay experience and give up the whole Facebook integration aspect of the game, because, let?s face it, how many people truly care about your scores? What?s more, the scores mean absolutely nothing, because once you go through a game, you can go back and replay it again, armed with the answers, to get a really good score. In the end, getting the best score becomes a speed competition, and nothing more. It?s really pointless without randomizing questions. Granted, in this second edition, you get thirty games, which is a lot more than the first edition offered, but still, would it be too much to ask for a more varied experience? Perhaps it?s because this game was born on the DVD medium, which is pretty much linear, but technology has moved on in leaps and bounds, and the SceneIt people should strive to keep up with it!
The second issue is that the game tries to please everyone by referencing movies from the last fifty or sixty years. I guess that?s fine for casual movie fans, but I found it frustrating that so many of the questions were about recent movies. If SceneIt can release a Twilight Edition of its DVD game and a 30 Rock edition for the iPad and iPhone, why not really take the plunge and release a whole series targeted games for the iPhone/iPad platform? For instance, two versions of this game could have been released: Classic Horror films (from the 30?s to the 60?s, for example) and Modern Horror Films (from the 70?s on).
The two eras appeal to very different folks; most younger people would enjoy a game like this about the recent films they?re more familiar with, but I guarantee that people my age (OK, so I don?t put all the candles on the cake anymore due to the fire hazard...) would jump on a game that would bring back the old Universal monsters. I would love to see that game produced for next Halloween, and I hope the good people at Screenlife will see this and take their cue.
Please don?t get me wrong, SceneIt Horror HD is truly a quality game, it?s lots of fun, and there are many different matches to play. Also, the game has a modest price tag of five dollars, which is much cheaper than the standard Scene It? editions, so it is a very good value. Considering what people spend for Halloween, the game is a real bargain, and it will be the hit of any haunted house party. It?s a Halloween must-have.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4 - Quite well-done graphic design overall; good supply of movie clips that look great on the iPad, but the animated sequences lack polish and feel cheap compared to the rest of the game. Great transition scenes, and wonderful touches of macabre humor throughout! Sound: - 4 - A spooky soundtrack contributes to a creepy but fun atmosphere, especially when playing with a group. However, a lack of variety in the music lends a bit of sameness to every match. Controls: - 5 - Very simple and responsive controls make this game a breeze to pick up. Gameplay: - 4 - An enjoyable experience for any movie buff, but the fact that each game can only be played once due to question repetition means that there is very little replay value to this game.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Answer as fast as possible, as the point count drops fairly quickly. - In Multiple Choice answers, go with your guts; it will often be the right answer. - This game is more fun with a plentiful supply of candy corn on hand!