Written by: Rik

Date posted: November 30, 2014

Passing to the right of midfield for a question on music. It's like football, mixed with a quiz!

Passing to the right of midfield for a question on music. It’s like football, mixed with a quiz!

Before it became Football Manager, and the name became attached to a series of games that, by all accounts, weren’t quite as good as Football Manager, Championship Manager was the leading football management sim, the only choice for serious management buffs. (You might remember that we wrote about it, a long time ago now). I suppose you could view this as the first (and by my calculations, only) attempt to grow the brand, albeit one that was timed to coincide with the release of Sky Sports Football Quiz (or maybe it was the other way round, or it was complete coincidence, who knows).

Given Championship Manager‘s famously low-profile presentation (“It looks like a spreadsheet!” etc) it perhaps isn’t surprising to find that Championship Manager Quiz lacks the razzmatazz of its rival, and when you consider that SSFQ isn’t exactly a multimedia extravaganza, you can appreciate just how basic we’re talking here. There’s no Kirsty Gallacher, that’s for sure.

CMQ promises to combine the worlds of trivia and management. The quiz takes the form of a match, and after choosing two teams, you answer questions to make a pass or a tackle; to shoot for, or save, a goal. When you have the ball, you have a number of passing options, and each team mate represents a different category of questions. Categories range from the predictable to the more outlandish (‘Music’ and ‘Mascots’, in particular, spring to mind), although one that will reappear frequently will be ‘Team’, which gives you the option to answer a question about the team you’ve selected. When your opponent (or the computer, in the extremely likely event that you can’t find anyone willing to play this with you) is in possession, they obviously choose the category in the same way (although in single player, you still have to answer the question).

The management angle essentially takes the form of three ‘tactics’ options, each of which you can use once, in a manner similar to the lifelines from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. One-Two gives you two guesses at the four available answers, Hit and Hope removes two wrong answers, while Substitution gives you a new question, if you don’t like the one you’re faced with.

One quite nice feature is the inclusion of some additional info when you get an answer right.

One quite nice feature is the inclusion of some additional info when you get an answer right.

And, er, that’s it. You can play a one or two player game, in the format described above, or there’s a mode called ‘Keepy Uppy’ which is just a series of questions that continues until you get one wrong. Finally, there’s a pub quiz option, which is designed for a room full of people with one person acting as quizmaster, and I really can’t imagine that this mode has ever been used as intended. There really isn’t much else to it: you can only ever play a single exhibition match, which will usually give you around 40 questions to answer in total. At the end, you’re given some stats (beyond the overall match score) and an overall rating, and that’s your lot.

The questions are harder than in SSFQ, probably because they’re not as focused on the Premier League, and with a four divisions of English teams, plus those from the Scottish Premiership, to choose from, each needing a portfolio of ‘Team’ questions, these are inevitably worked into the main game as questions on more general topics. So you’ll get questions on how much Motherwell paid Ross County for some player or other, or who scored the winner in some distant lower-league encounter, and it’s a hardy trivia buff indeed who knows and remembers such details. You do have an age to answer each question, unlike in SSFQ, so I suppose some quick internet work on a phone or tablet could bear fruit (although it would of course render the whole enterprise rather pointless).

The box boasts that CMQ features over 11000 questions, which is nearly three times as many as SSFQ, yet despite spending less time with this game, and switching between teams for variety, I still had multiple repeat questions, which is a little odd. The game doesn’t reveal correct answers if you get one wrong, though, which I suppose you could say adds longevity. But, as we’ve mentioned, there’s already little incentive for repeat play: game modes are limited, winning games is pretty easy, there’s no high score system, and the proliferation of obscure questions makes substantial improvement difficult.

Poor old Ade.

Poor old Ade.

On top of that, the presentation is extremely spartan, with very basic pitch graphics, text-only questions, and generic spot effects. To be honest, it reminded me of the ST quiz games I revisited recently, something that had to fit on a 720kb floppy disk rather than a CD. And, while we’re harking back to the past, an idle flick through the CMQ manual reveals that the lead programmer is none other than Raffaele Cecco, whose name will be familiar to 8-bit computer fans as the legendary creator of the likes of Cybernoid and Exolon. Discovering that his name is attached to this is a bit like boarding a ferry and finding your favourite band in the lounge playing half-hearted covers.

Cecco’s name, and that of Championship Manager, deserve better than to be associated with this game. Even for those who enjoy remembering the name of the Derby County striker who was forced to return to Argentina following work permit problems, as I do (Esteban Fuertes, incidentally), CMQ is a dull, unengaging affair. The best thing that can be said for it is that it might remind you that Championship Manager was brilliant and make you want to play it again. But, if you must play a football quiz game from 2001 – and it’s very doubtful that you must – I’d recommended SSFQ instead.