There is nothing trivial about knowing the intricacies of Women's Olympic Saber or being able to surmise that the average adult should have 32 teeth, not 32 children. TV Show King, one of the first games released on the WiiWare service, is one of the few games on the system in which trivia buffs can strut their stuff. There are a few tweaks to the classic answer/question dynamic that unfortunately reward luck over knowledge, but the few bad design choices are largely overshadowed by all the good here. Great presentation, a wide array of questions, and even full Mii support make this one of the best options for some family competition.
TV Show King mimics the basic formula of primetime gameshows quite faithfully. There's a smarmy host who would not be allowed outside in decent society, a shapely female co-host who never opens her mouth, four contestants who wildly overreact to every question, and even a rockin' DJ bringing us back from breaks. What it doesn't have is a buzzer for players to ring in with. Everyone scrambles to answer the questions at the same time, which means that knowledge is not always necessary to score points. If one of your friends is well-versed in 17th-century Portuguese history, you can piggyback on his or her answers. More points are awarded to those who answer quickest, but this serves as one of many features that level the playing field.
Unfortunately, not all such features are as benign as answer stealing. In later rounds, the multiple-choice answers that should be clearly visible become hidden. Sometimes you'll have to use a looking glass to see what each answer is, and at other times you'll have to manually scratch away a protective shell like it's a lottery ticket. These are incredibly annoying inclusions that hinder not only the flow of the contest, but also the fun. The whole point of trivia is to have the answers on display for everyone to see so everyone has an equal chance to guess correctly. Making people race to reveal each choice rewards those with a deft hand rather than mind.
Worse still is the cursed wheel of chance. At the end of every round, you have the option to spin a wheel that will either grant you even more money or mercilessly take your hard-earned coin away. You can try to ignore the wheel, but if one player chooses to use it, then the rest of you are left with little choice but to follow suit. A forced system of "doomed if you do, doomed if you don't" is never fun in a game of erudition. If you play with four people and everyone decides to test their luck, the well-paced flow of nonstop trivia questions runs into a brick wall of boredom, since spinning the wheel takes far too long. Losing in the final round even though you dominated in pure, trivial knowledge is one hurdle that life should never toss at you.
If you can ignore those regrettable gripes, the rest of the game is quite satisfying. TV Show King has lots and lots of questions. It took many hours of nonstop trivia slinging before the first smattering of repeats finally surfaced. The questions are not just plentiful but also quite good. You have three different skill levels to choose from, and some are real head-scratchers. With everything from pop-music divas to geometric theories covered, there are questions for just about everyone. But it goes even deeper than that. This game is funny. In one question about Will Smith blockbusters, an unknown Spike Jones mockumentary is listed among the expected answers; in another, TV Show King gives players the option to classify The Coliseum as a "single-family home."
TV Show King also has Miis that run the gamut of facial expressions, going one step further than even Wii Sports. Some of your parts will be swapped out whenever exaggerated emotions need to be on full display. From looking utterly furious when the dastardly wheel foils their chances at victory, to being the embodiment of happiness when they stand atop the first-place pedestal, the personality injected by these mood-altering Miis adds a lot to the experience. There is nothing quite like seeing your friend dealt a devastating fate at the wheel, and seeing his real face bear the same look of abject fury as his little Mii, right down to the tick forming under his right eye.
It's a shame that TV Show King has those baffling scratch-off rounds and the sadistic wheel, because the rest of the package is surprisingly well put together. For only 1000 Wii Points ($10), this is a bargain for everyone looking to prove their worldly worth in the field of trivia. This is instantly one of the better party games on the system and, because there are so many questions, it's likely that you'll be coming back again and again.