Building a good trivia game for the iPhone and iPod touch is harder than it looks. You have to feature a challenging mix of questions, of course, but you also need to present those questions in a way that’s suited for an iOS device’s touch interface. IMDB Trivia from Playfield Apps does a decent job of handling the former challenge, but it absolutely nails the latter.
Given its entertainment industry pedigree, it’s no surprise that IMDB Trivia’s quiz centers on movies, TVs and celebrities. Each level features five questions along the lines of what star appeared in what movie or who said what line. You rack up points not only for guessing correctly, but for getting the answer right on your first guess—you’re allowed two—and for answering quickly—a green timer bar counts down how long you have to answer a question. Answer enough questions correctly, and you progress to the next level. Rack up enough points, and you unlock more quizzes. (You can also pay $1 to buy additional packs of questions via the in-app purchase feature.)
The questions skew toward more recent movies, which may disappoint classic film buffs. They can also get a little repetitive if you replay levels to try and accrue more points for unlocking future quizzes. Here’s hoping the developer will introduce more questions in future updates to keep IMDB Trivia fresh.
It’s the app’s design, though, where this trivia game really shines, and that’s not an insignificant matter. Sporcle, just to cite an example, has an excellent online trivia site, but its mobile edition for the iPad and iPhone suffers from a lackluster look and requires too much data entry.
IMDB Trivia doesn’t make that mistake. Rather than having you type your answers in, IMDB Trivia opts for a multiple choice format. But instead of a static list of questions and answers, the app mixes things up. Some questions present the answers as a scrollable list of movie posters. Others require you to tap and drag to place the answers in the right order. In another question, the answers to “What movies has Clint Eastwood appeared in” will float across the screen, requiring you to tap the correct responses. It’s a well-thought-out approach to a trivia game that keeps the proceedings from becoming too repetitive.
There are a number of impressive design touches in IMDB Trivia that show the same kind of care and attention to detail on display in IMDB Movies & TV, still one of the best-designed reference tools in the App Store in my opinion. Answer a trivia question correctly, and you’ll hear a smattering of applause. Panes containing the questions glide into view, and awarded points pop across the screen in a pleasing manner. After some answers, the app will even include a tidbit of trivia with a link to an IMDB.com page about the movie or TV show (which you access via an in-app browser) if you want more information. Someone put a lot of time into giving IMDB Trivia a distinctive look, and it pays off in the finished product.
If there’s one thing I’d change about the app—besides routinely freshening up the questions to add to its replay value—I’d make it easier to test your movie skills against other players. IMDB offers Game Center integration, so you can compare scores to friends. But there doesn’t appear to be a way to challenge friends or go up against other players in a head-to-head mode. That would be a great addition.
Even without that capability, this is a solid, thoughtfully-designed trivia app that’s likely to keep movie fans coming back for more.
[Macworld.com editor Philip Michaels recently appeared in the motion picture Moneyball. He plays the fan wearing the A’s hat.]