Quiz RPG: World of Mystic Wiz (for Android) review

Quiz RPG combines familiar aspects of JRPGs with the card collecting/monster summoning of Yu-Gi-Oh! and tops it all with a trivia quiz battle system to create this strange, shallow hybrid.
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There are a lot of strange things on the Google Play store, and, though the oddly named Quiz RPG: World of Mystic Wiz (free, Google Play) is probably not the strangest, it certainly is a doozy. If you enjoy collectible monster battling-card games, mastering fantasy JRPGs, and  showing off your encyclopedic knowledge of trivia, then, friend: have I found a game for you.

“Just call me Wiz”
In Quiz RPG, you take the role of an apprentice wizard studying under a young woman named (and I am not kidding) Wiz. Wiz teaches you the ins-and-outs of the wizarding world. In practice this means watching animations of scrolling 3D landscapes and occasionally answering trivia questions. These are “quests.”

Each quest consists of a handful of battles against free roaming “spirits,” which are presented as cards. These spirit cards take the form of cute animals, mythological creatures, and (as the game’s advertising great pains to emphasize) scantily clad women. Or any combination of the above.

You enter battle with a slate of five spirit cards against a varying number of enemy spirits. Each spirit is assigned one of the game’s three color-coded elements—fire, water, thunder. You choose which spirits to send into battle by choosing one of four randomly generated categories. These usually include sports, entertainment, science, history, lifestyle, etc. Each category has an element associated with it (sometimes more than one), and selecting a category will send your spirits of corresponding element into battle.

That is, if you answer the question correctly. You’re given four possible answers to choose from and a timer counts down 20 seconds in which to answer. Answer correctly and your spirits unleash their attacks. Screw up and you’ll have to wait until the next turn.

The questions themselves range from the challenging (“What is the name of the biggest part of the human brain?”) to the laughably simple (“How many minutes are there in an hour?”) to the bizarre (“What is Apple’s innovative iPad?”). The game helpfully shows the correct answer when you get it wrong. It’s educational!

While battles make up the bulk of quests, you’ll occasionally be tasked with placing four items into a particular order. I found these to be brutally difficult, with questions like “Put these teams in order of their win percentage for the 2012-13 MLB regular season.” Thankfully, these encounters don’t harm you—they just give you a crack at special loot.

Not Your Dad’s Quiz RPG
Many years ago, I encountered a cabinet of Capcom’s Quiz & Dragons hidden in the basement of a Michigan arcade. Bewildered, my friend and I spent $30 worth of quarters defeating it. Its bizarre mix of a dice-throwing board-game fantasy RPG and trivial pursuit still strikes me as one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. You haven’t lived until you’ve had to answer a dragon’s questions about mid-1980s pop culture.

Quiz RPG shares some of the same elements, but with a markedly more modern approach. It draws heavily from flashy, addictive time-waster games like Candy Crush and throws in a collectible card system for good measure. While battles make up some of your time in Quiz RPG, each quest costs MP which takes time to restore—limiting your actions per session. Don’t worry, the game gives you lots to do besides.

You can level up your spirits by sacrificing lesser spirits in the Enhance section. Of course, doing so raises the cost of your spirits and there’s a limit to the total point value of your spirit “deck.” Ah, but of course, you can use the game’s premium crystal currency to increase your deck’s limit.

In a nod to Pokémon, you can also evolve your spirits. This is a similar process to Enhancing, but requires you sacrifice specific spirits. Having only played the game a short time on my Nexus 5, I was not able to see the results.

There’s also a friending system that lets you aid friendly wizards in battle, tournaments where you compete to be the speediest question answerer in order to raise some personal stats, a marketplace to unlock new high-level spirits by spending some premium crystal cash, special quests that are available for a  limited time…it goes on.

Needless to say there’s a story in the midst of all this—something about a prophecy of darkness and the mysterious World Zero (as distinct from the other 108 worlds mentioned in the intro) and the equally mysterious intentions of your wizard pal Wiz. Not that it matters. Most of the game will have you fiddling with stats and doing side-quests like “Sewer Cleaning.”

The Flashiest Fluff
I was quickly overwhelmed with everything that Quiz RPG threw at me. All the different stats to manage, the cards/spirits to manage, the friends list to manage, the stuff to unlock—and that’s not even the actual game part of the game.

My entire experience with Quiz RPG reminded me of the last time I played a slot machine, and I am certain that the developers took a lot of cues from video gambling. Everything flashes and sparkles, and there’s always something to fiddle with. Despite myself, I soon feel into a trance of tapping and tapping, waiting to answer more trivia questions.

In the end, the Quiz RPG is a bizarre hybrid that takes several familiar game concepts and manages to squeeze all the joy and strategy out of them. What’s left is a shallow, cynical experience where all you can do is grind, grind, grind—and maybe spend some money on premium currency. Though I can see its appeal, I’d much rather curl up with something that doesn’t need to trick me into thinking I am having fun—maybe Editors’ Choice Ridiculous Fishing.


Verdict
Quiz RPG combines familiar aspects of JRPGs with the card collecting/monster summoning of Yu-Gi-Oh! and tops it all with a trivia quiz battle system to create this strange, shallow hybrid.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
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