What if all the alien races were fighting over Earth? How would the winner be determined? Microforum attempts to answer this question with its new trivia game, Mind Grind. This bizarre new title pits alien against alien in a contest where the extra-terrestrial with the greatest understanding of frivolous earthling knowledge will win the right to call Earth home.
Unlike most puzzle games whose object is to simply answer trivia questions, Mind Grind adds a twist by incorporating some intriguing strategy and action elements to its five-level progressive game. Each level has a unique objective that must be met in order to be successfully completed. On one level you must avoid whirlwinds while climbing up pillars; on another you must make your way through a maze of gates. You'll quickly discover that this is more than a trivia game.
Interesting it may be, but Mind Grind is not without its flaws. While reviewing a final version of the game, I experienced graphic glitches as well as the occasional loss of audio. If you save, then exit the game, when you return you're forced to start at the beginning of the level you're in even if you were in the middle of it when you saved the game. And visually, Mind Grind is by no means a showpiece. The video segments throughout are grainy with medicore sound effects.
During your quest to conquer earthling trivia, charasmatic earthling Homer is your guide and game-show-like host. While providing useful instructions, he also contributes sarcastic comments and heckles throughout the game. At first he's entertaining, but after hearing And you are WRONG for the umpteenth time when you answer a question incorrectly (easy to do as some choices are so closely related), you may decide to put Homer at the front of the line of the earthlings you plan to eliminate when you win the right to re-colonize Earth.
Although the last two levels of this trivia extravaganza contain an element of action, the final level is an frustrating experience. On Looking for Intelligent Signs of Life, you must maneuver a ship through space while carefully avoiding meteoroids and shooting plasma blasts at crafts that contain the trivia questions. Using the keyboard controls turns into a nightmarish experience, so be sure to save the game before attempting this level, as too many hits from the meteoroids will end your game. This poorly designed action sequence seems unnecessary and out of place in a game where the main objective is to correctly answer questions.
Though Mind Grind has more than 3,000 questions, several questions appeared more than once during a single session even when the question had been answered correctly. Also, I found one question to be in extremely poor taste: How did Magic Johnson contract the HIV virus? This question seemed completely inappropriate considering the overall upbeat attitude of the game.
Although Mind Grind tries to take an innovative approach to trivia gaming, it falls short of being a truly entertaining experience. With its technical limitations and quirky gameplay, Mind Grind goes from being a test of your frivolous knowledge to a test of your patience and stamina. And although an alien might endure this game for the chance to rule the Earth, I can't say the same for any of the human race.