I was being slightly facetious last time I mentioned this, but Christmas is a time for board games and quizzes.

In fact, many of my earliest memories of the Yuletide season involve the family all getting together to play Trivial Pursuit – not the actual board game, mind you, but the computer version. Much of the credit/blame must go to my Dad and his (at the time) enthusiasm for new technology, without which I’m sure my grandparents would never have been persuaded to huddle around an Amstrad CPC for their Christmas trivia action.

Rik 2 is winning

Rik 2 is winning.

Revisiting it now, one of the things this adaptation really got right was to keep the essentials of the board game largely intact, and uncomplicated by fussy innovation, while also adding a dash of unobtrusive charm here and there to elevate the experience beyond a dry rehashing of the cardboard format. The fundamentals of rolling and moving (rightly) remain extremely straightforward; the light touch comes in the form of the quizmaster, TP, who retires from the main board into a cosy-looking sitting room to deliver (after some pacing back and forth) each question with a charming, if rather comical, approximation of speech reminiscent of R2D2 on helium.

It turns out he doesn't mean the first time, in Diamonds are Forever? He means Never Say Never Again. I gave myself the point anyway.

It turns out he doesn’t mean the first time, in Diamonds are Forever. He means Never Say Never Again. I gave myself the point anyway.

Occasionally, TP dims the lights to show a slide, or steps over to the stereo to play some music. He’ll also change his hat according to the question category – for art and literature, TP will wear a beret; for sport and leisure, it’ll be a baseball cap. I also rather like his deadpan responses when you own up to getting an answer wrong.

We'll never beat Rik 2.

We’ll never beat Rik 2.

It must have had some charm to get the whole family involved, however enthusiastic my father, and however much alcohol had been taken. From what I remember, a good time was generally had by all.

Once we upgraded to an Atari ST, we immediately sought out the 16-bit version, expecting significant technological improvements and for the annual family Trivial Pursuit sessions to move seamlessly over to the ST. But even though it was the same basic game, something had been lost in translation.

For one thing, the anticipated visual improvement failed to materialise: while the graphics are unquestionably crisper, the palette is rather muddy when compared with the bright chunkiness of the 8-bit version. Moreover, TP himself has gone from being a cheerful cartoon character to an overweight, balding, clown-without-his-makeup type, and his upbeat bleeps have been replaced by a nightmarish Twin Peaks-style gibberish. Needless to say, this version was soon abandoned and the family made the trek to my bedroom to fire up the old CPC.

Kids, never get into 16-bit TP's car. Not even if he's got sweets.

Kids, never get into 16-bit TP’s car. Not even if he’s got sweets.

(I also have dim memories of a collective fondness for a game called Powerplay, which – and I’m not making this up – blended trivia elements with Greek mythology and chess. But that’s a story for another time, I think.)

Anyway, this might be the last you hear from me before the big day, so let me wish you all a very happy Christmas!