I originally picked up Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action in the fall of 2007 for the Xbox 360. It came with four big button controllers that allowed players to buzz in with the feel of being part of a real game show. My five year old cousin loved playing on my team, screaming and slapping the big button when I told him I knew the answer. I loved being able to put my ten-years-and-counting Netflix subscription to good use, nailing niche questions while my opponents eventually became discouraged and went off to do something else.
In the fall of 2008, Scene It? Box Office Smash came out, but the sheer amount and quality of games that came out alongside it meant it fell by the wayside as I enjoyed playing Left 4 Dead and Fallout 3 and snapping Star Wars: The Force Unleashed in half.
When I was assigned a review of Scene It? Bright Lights, Big Screen, which came out late in 2009, I was eager to find out how the game had changed and what innovations had been made by Screenlife and Artificial Mind & Movement.
As it turns out, not only have absolutely no significant changes been made since 2007, yet the game has somehow regressed.
SI?BLBS (I think that acronym will stick, don’t you?) is a slapped-together, digitalized version of the game, which seems to find an occasion to release a new title for every movie or television show with more than fifteen fans. The Harry Potter Scene It? is already in multiple editions and let's not even talk about the Twilight version. Like the board game, the Scene It? video games need to worry less about pushing titles out the door and more about producing quality entertainment. There’s still time to turn it around before consumers adopt this attitude and stop buying this product. At this point, the title I once saw as revolutionary has reduced itself in my mind to a hasty cash-grab.
This latest digital version offers minimal animation and a bare-bones host module. Compared to the 2007 version, which transported players to whimsical movie sets to answer questions from a variety of genres, this 2009 version barely finds the strength to slap some 8 bit color onto a menu screen. Besides what the game borrows from movies, there are only three real elements of gameplay: the host, the players, and the questions.
You’ll be guided through the game by a fictional cartoon host (whom, mercifully, you can opt to turn off). He’ll explain how to answer questions (again, you can skip this part, unless you are a complete moron and need a flashing diagram to explain where buttons are on your controller when they are labeled for you by Sony). He will also offer jokes that are more obnoxious and less funny than those made by the muppety Greg Proops host from the Buzz trivia games.
Instead, you’ll choose one of several Hollywood archetypes to play as: the starlet, the action star (Rambo), the horror queen (Elvira), and so on. This will give the host the opportunity to make even more obnoxious comments, so if you haven’t been listening so far, please take this opportunity to write yourself a note to self: “If I do foolishly decide to purchase SI?BLBS, remember to turn the host off.”
And then, there are the questions, which could have been easily delivered (and would have been more welcome) as DLC. However, I suppose it’s in Screenlife’s best interests as far as sales go to keep a game on shelves as a new release every fall, so there you go. I was happy to welcome back the enjoyable variety of questions and question types to the game. I still get a kick out of trying to commit scenes to memory and figuring out what person or item has been blacked out from a movie still. Again, though, this is something that Scene It? has been offering for many years, and it’s no reason to buy the game in yet another version unless you play obsessively and would deeply benefit from 2800 additional movie trivia questions.
The only reason to ever buy a new version of this game is if you need your movie trivia to be painfully contemporary (I lost count after answering three questions based on the 2009 Tom Hanks stinker Angels & Demons).
I was surprised and frightened at one point to see that X-Men Origins: Gambit was an answer to choose from. Does this mean this movie is real? That Gambit is the second most important/interesting X-Man? I’d rather see X-Men Origins: Jubilee, thanks.
Scene It? Bright Lights, Big Screen doesn't aspire (or achieve) greatness, but it didn't make me throw my controller or contemplate suicide so I could get out of reviewing it, as I once did with the latest Leisure Suit Larry game. Skip this version if you have any of the others. If you don’t already own Scene It? in some shape or form, congratulations on finding your way onto the internet.