Review: QuizBowl


QuizBowl is a simple idea. Take two people, ask them questions, and see who scores the most. Everyone gathers points to unlock new levels, you can challenge friends or simply build up your own experience, and it all happens in a bright and friendly environment. There is a lot to like about Bernardo Zamora's quiz game.

Author: Bernardo Zamora

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Set up in the traditional question and four possible answers modes, QuizBowl has a solid range of categories that you can quizzed on. Each challenge is just seven questions long, and should take no more than a few minutes to play, which is an important consideration for a mobile game. Stats are tracked so you can see how well you perform in each game, and your profile is saved to the cloud so you can log in with another copy of the game and still have your progress maintained.

 QuizBowl QuizBowl 

One thing that you should be fully aware of is the lack of an offline mode. To play QuizBowl you have no choice but to be online. This is because each round of questions sets you up against another player. Two people are selected to compete by the server, and they are asked the same questions. Whoever scores the most points wins the round and some bonus points. Those points are all gathered together so you can level up and gain access to more questions and higher bonuses.

While the game does ask you to go online to play, you are not playing at the exact same time as your chosen opponent. This is an asynchronous game, and while you have to wait for the pairing to occur, after that you have 24 hours in which to play through the questions for that challenge. If you don't, victory goes to your opponent. Once you have both played through then the victor is declared, and you can carry on with your quizzing.

 QuizBowl QuizBowl 

The asynchronous nature of the game also means that you can have multiple challenges on the go at any one time. I never had to wait more than ten or twenty seconds to start playing a challenge, so there is a good volume of players in the mix as I write this review. How long they will stay is another matter, and that is fundamental to the long-term health of the game.

Part of that will come down to the questions. There will need to be a constant stream of new questions offered in each category to keep things interesting, and I started to get repeating questions in the Harry Potter round after four challenges. With just seven questions in a challenge, that's not a good sign. To be a long-term success, I think the game needs to bring in more categories of questions to play - you get a chance to cast one vote per day on new categories, so there is some user input going on.

That might seem a lot to ask for a game that is a free download and ad-supported by nature, but QuizBowl needs people to keep playing to gain the revenue from the advertising, so looking for longevity is a valid point. The one other revenue area is to unlock the many avatars you can choose from when setting up your profile. This costs £2.99 in the UK, unlocks all the avatars, and removes the advertising from the game. It's not a spectacular unlock, but the option is there if you want to support the app.

 QuizBowl QuizBowl 

In a way, I'm glad to see that developer Bernardo Zamora has avoided the freemium route here (the idea of time boosts, remove a wrong answer, and jump to the head of the challenge queue, are all freemium ideas that could gather more money in the short-term, but would unbalance the game). QuizBowl is fast enough to be enjoyable in short bursts, challenging enough to make you stop and think rather than go for the obvious answers, and the added touch of being a human vs. human game makes it feel far more fair and equitable than playing against a timer for a high score, or the artificial gaming of a computerised AI.

It does need a fair bit of ongoing support to make it work in the long-term, but for now, the gamers that enjoy the challenge of quizzing should get on fine with QuizBowl.

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