Mini-Review: Scene It? Seinfeld
September 22, 2008
Two years ago I wondered why game publishers had yet to pick up the Seinfeld license and produce video games featuring Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine (and maybe Newman, too). It took some time, but someone finally picked up the gauntlet and created a game about nothing. Carefully order your favorite soup, heat up the Chinese food leftovers, and iron your puffy shirt because the popular entertainment trivia board game Scene It? has gone Seinfeld in this latest release.
Scene It? isn't a traditional video game, of course. It's more of a board game with the usual trappings of a game board, dice, player tokens, and trivia cards. Dragging these elements into the modern video era is the included DVD that's packed with clips from the Seinfeld television show. The object of the game is to move your token around the game board (which can be folded or expanded out for shorter or longer games) by correctly answering trivia questions prompted by the DVD or the stack of game cards. Move your token all the way to the end of the board before your competitors to win. Sometimes the game will prompt players to draw cards, answer questions, and yadda, yadda, yadda, you get the idea.
To be successful at this flavor of Scene It? you'll need to bulk up on your Seinfeld lore. The game will throw questions at your about not only storylines, but character quirks, the actors themselves (both the stars and the guests), and even a little obsessive minutiae that only someone who has seen reruns over and over could possibly hope to know. Sometimes the game will show a clip from an episode and bleep out certain words or phrases that need to be filled in by players. For example, one question features a clip of Jerry and Elaine talking about Kramer's coffee table book about coffee tables. Every instance of the phrase "coffee table" is bleeped out and players are expected to fill in the blank. Other questions may involve freezing a clip of a scene and challenging players to state what comes next. As far as the trivia questions go, here are a few examples:
Q: George once claimed, "I don't trust men in capes." Who is the only exception?
Q: In "The Revenge," who tells George, "I'll always be a winner and you'll always be a loser?"
A: His boss, Rick Barr.
Q: In Season Two, Seinfeld's ratings rose after it was moved to the time slot directly following what hit Thursday night show?
The most important thing you'll need to play Scene It? isn't an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Seinfeld, but plenty of Seinfeld-watching friends who like to play board games. This is key. The more people you can get together to play, the better. I decided to bring it to my non-gaming day job a few Fridays ago. There are a bunch of Seinfeld fans at the office and most of them enjoy video games. The boss approved use of the large conference room projector for the game. We were going to play the game over lunch on the really big screen. It was going to be grand! Unfortunately, the whole idea fell apart when, come game time, most of the people who expressed interest in playing wandered off when they saw the rule sheet and game board. Then we had issues coaxing the projector's computer into properly playing the DVD (some DVD players may have issues with the game disc as indicated in the included instructions). In the end it came down to three of us sitting around the table and reading the trivia cards to one another without actually keeping score, using the game board (there is a Party Play mode on the disc that negates the need for the game board, but, again, the office hardware just wasn't up to playing it), or watching the DVD. That's not the suggested Scene It? experience, of course, but we still enjoyed ourselves. It's even more fun when played as intended.
Scene It?'s take on Seinfeld can be a lot of fun, but you'll have to find the right audience to get the most out of it. You'll need friends who enjoy board games and know their Seinfeld. If you can meet those conditions, then consider it heartily recommended.