Once upon a time, ‘TV tie-in’ usually meant ‘theme shoe-horned onto snakes and ladders or ludo to make a quick buck’, but in recent years, thanks mainly to Gale Force Nine, the term has been redeemed by the likes of Firefly, Sons of Anarchy, Doctor Who and Mrs Brown’s Boys Ultimate Party Game. But even in the dark old days, you could still rely on a tie-in if it was linked to a game show because, well, the TV tie-in is… a game. The quality would then be very much determined by the quality of the game in the show, as it were.
Welcome to the House of Games…
Now I am not an out-and-out game show-a-holic, but there are times when I can be lured by the likes of Ben Shepard to watch Tipping Point (aka ‘Money Broom’ in this household, if you are familiar with the Clarence episode) or Bradley Walsh to watch The Chase (if only to watch the hopes and dreams of the remaining contestants dashed by the cruel Vixen or the relentless Dark Destroyer) – it also makes me feel slightly cleverer than I actually am when I occasionally get a question right on University Challenge.
It is only recently that I have been introduced to the charms of Richard Osman’s House of Games though, harking back to a gentler age of parlour games and wordplay that could be seen in the likes of Call My Bluff or Ask the Family, if you can remember that far back. Not as full on as Just a Minute or as ladsy as 8 out of 10 cats… a happy medium, and one that Golden Fox have now re-created for you to play at home, minus the celebrity panel and Richard Osman… unless you are Richard Osman, in which case it’s all gravy.
… Now Here Come the Rules
If you have not watched ROHoG, this is the simple premise: celebrities pair up/go against each other to answer or solve word-based tasks for points over the course of a week – whoever has the most points at the end of the week wins… usually some kind of themed-yet-disappointing prize. The boxed version follows the same premise, only you won’t play it over a number of days and the themed prize… well, that’s entirely up to you.
There are six categories or ‘rounds’ to choose from and a final seventh round, Answer Smash, which always ends the game. Four of the rounds are chosen at random and slid into a card holder – this determines the order of the rounds and the rounds that are actually played. Now it suggests that this game can be played by 3+ players, but I reckon you’d probably need at least five to make it work as most of the rounds are played in teams and one of the players acts as the Question Master.
Each round has four questions asked, and the fifth round is always the same but also has four questions – points are gained for correct answers and whoever has the most points at the end, wins (a Richard Osman-themed cardboard trophy… okay, there is a themed-yet-disappointing prize). Fairly straightforward and pub quizzy so far… but the difference is in the rounds.
Round Round, Get Around, I Get a Round…
There are seven rounds in total, each one question and word based… but are a little different from just a straightforward ‘that’s the answer, mate’:
- You Complete Me – this has to be played as teams of two. A question is asked with a two-word answer. Whichever team buzzes the Richard Osman buzzer first gets a chance to answer, but the pair have to give one word of the answer each without conferring. Could be awkward…
- Totes Emoji – another team game. One member of the team is shown a card with two titles on – they choose one to express through the medium of emojis. If their partner gets it right, points are gained. If not, the opposing team can buzz in for a bonus point. Regardless of bonuses, they then have to emojify the other title.
- You Spell Terrible – also a team game (actually, each of the team games can be played individually, but it’s more fun/sillier with more players). A question is asked; a player buzzes in with the answer; their partner has to spell the answer correctly. Incorrect spellings can mean bonus points for other team/players if they spell them correctly.
- Rhyme Time – bit of an Obama on a Llama one here – two trivia questions are asked, with the common factor being that the two answers rhyme. The player who buzzes in with the correct answer gets the point.
- Correction Centre – a phrase is read out and one of the words in the phrase is incorrect – the player who can give the correct word that allows the phrase to make sense gets the point and gets the point.
- House of Games Specials – aha, the specials board. These are a little bit trickier to get your head around, so are put in their own collective category: Games House Of asks a question where you have to give the answer in alphabetical order; Broken Karaoke gives you only the year and first letter of a song, along with the first letters of the words of the chorus – name that tune!; The Backwards Round is where backwards answer the give to have you (Stop – Yoda Time!) and King of the Jumble is two questions where the answers are anagrams of each other.
- Answer Smash – in this round, you are given two definitions to two words that you have to buzz in and smash together – for instance, Anacondoleezza Rice for constricting snake and former secretary of state (yes, I am that much fun).
So there’s a bit more to it than just a pub quiz, I’ll have you know. Just a pub quiz indeed…
Please – Drink Responsibly…
Okay, so the box is waaaay too big for the game, you don’t get any score cards or pencils (you do get a stand up Richard Osman trophy though) and there’s only one Richard Osman Buzzer (there’s only one Richard Osman Buzzer! One-Richard-Osssssssman-Buzzer etc.), but you do get a lot of question cards and there is a lot of variety in the rounds – some of the references are more for families of a certain age, but you could say that about any quiz-based game. It also has the potential for a lot of silly fun and plays like three or four Big Potato Games in one (though it doesn’t quite match the production standards).
It could also make a killer drinking game in the right circumstances and an accessible and SFW alternative to Cards Against Humanity, which is a good thing seeing as it’s nice to have a good time without causing offence. Plus, any chance to talk like Yoda? Avoid it I will not!