University Challenge

Considering the domination of the layman within the TV quiz these days, it's almost surprising that University Challenge manages to stay on our screens. Your average prime-time TV quiz is more likely to be an expose of little hairdressers know about Hamlet than a celebration of a good old genius. Yes, we tend not to like seeing too many people overtly cleverer than us. What business do they have being all clever like that anyway? I did my GCSEs same as anyone.

Although University Challenge occasionally stumbles into the stupid gap, as a university team comes in woefully under-prepared, it's generally a traditional battle of the brains made infinitely more watchable by the acerbic Jeremy Paxman. This mobile version closely follows the format of the TV show, tracing the progress of your university team as you mentally fight your way through a season of the show.

As such, you're pitted against another university team in each match. Every round starts with a 'starter for ten', a question that (surprise, surprise) is worth ten points and requires you to buzz in before the other team does. Get the question right and you'll get a further three bonus questions to answer. Get it wrong, though, and the other team gets a free go at the question and you lose points.

It's a fairly simple round structure that repeats throughout the game, but it works because its focus is on what quiz gaming's all about - answering questions. The buzzer feature and the suggestions of your team mates, appearing as bubbles above their heads, are welcome elements though, raising the tension and character of the game respectively. Crucially, these slightly more gimmicky elements never threaten to eclipse the quiz core.

After you've beaten your first team, you move onto the semi-final round against a new team, and then onto the final, just as a successful team would do over the course of the year on the television programme. Although in practice little more than a series of three matches, it complements the single round Quick Play mode well.

You can customize your team too, choosing avatars and names. Cheekily, the default team is named after publisher Capcom, although the other teams are happily slightly mauled versions of real-life universities, from Middlesax to Combridge.

The interface could have a little more grace about it, though. With sprites that look a little like finger puppets and a font that seems to be misguidedly striving towards similarity with that of the TV show's title, University challenge comes across as charming but ever-so-slightly shonky.

Screen transitions aren't that smooth and questions often disappear a little too quickly. You can bring the question back on the screen with a button press, but it all adds to the sense that University Challenge isn't as polished as a quiz such as, say, The Weakest Link.

However, the classic screens from the series are packed-in, including Paxman's quizzical eyebrow-raise, even if it is that of his finger puppet alter ego. Thankfully, the game also features the series' breadth of questions. In spite of its intellectual roots, the TV show still occasionally plods into the mucky fields of popular culture too.

On one level, this is little more than a solid mobile version of the TV show. However, University Challenge the TV show is actually well suited for a mobile game re-working. Its focus on knowledge and solid quizzing rather than gimmicks and other elements that rely too heavily on human interaction make it a success, if not quite a universal one.

University Challenge

Presentation has a slightly cheap and cheerful feel to it, but University Challenge's focus on questions atop a decent structure rather than the TV gimmicks we're used to seeing in small-screen conversions makes the game a relative success