My wife sent me this list: Peculiar British Video Games You Won’t Believe Ever Existed (it was on Buzzfeed. I think they like lists on Buzzfeed).

Without sounding like some deathly-dull know-it-all retro bore, as someone both British and old enough to remember a time when a) Blockbusters and Bullseye were on TV and b) making tie-in games based on these shows didn’t seem like such a crazy idea, a few of them were actually familiar to me.

My interest was piqued sufficiently to dig out the ST emulator and revisit one of the games on the list, namely the home computer version of A Question of Sport:


For any readers unfamiliar with the extremely long-running BBC show, its most recent incarnation is a multicoloured light-entertainment nightmare in which the former Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson and shifty ex-England spin bowler Phil Tufnell each lead a panel of guests through some sporting trivia while taking it in turns to shoehorn in some bad jokes or otherwise embarrassing antics to the evident discomfort of an increasingly exasperated Sue Barker.

Sue wasn’t always the host, though, and this game was released during David Coleman’s marathon stint as presenter, with Bill Beaumont and Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham team captains at the time. The format of the show hasn’t changed massively over the years, although it was a somewhat more sedate affair in the 80s, and the distinct lack of razzmatazz has certainly translated over to the home version.

After an extremely approximate rendition of the theme tune (in fact, it’s not the right melody at all but has obviously been written to sound vaguely similar, although for what reason it was changed, I don’t know – maybe they didn’t have the rights to the real music) you get to pick a captain (Bill or Ian) and two teammates (not real sportsmen and women but a random collection of digitised faces – most likely people from the developers’ office), each of whom has their own sporting area of expertise. The quiz itself then starts and you run through the various rounds from the real-life show.


The thing that struck me most about QoS was how basic it all is: there are no graphics or sound, really, just digitised pictures and the odd spot effect. Otherwise, it’s just a load of questions about sport [well, obviously- FFG reader] delivered via a speech bubble. Even the infamous ‘What Happened Next?’ round has to be reduced to a text description of a scenario and a number of possibilities. It seems odd now that the strength of the brand alone was strong enough to carry such a thin product.

It wasn’t a great favourite in our house, with the focus on sport excluding anyone who didn’t really like, er, sport, and the trivia game of choice was the computer version of Trivial Pursuit. Still, I do have some memories of playing against my Dad, who constantly expressed irritation at the headache-inducing shimmering of the portraits in 16-colour mode (an effect sadly lost in the screenshots here) and my Uncle, who to this day has never owned a computer but seemed to enjoy it at the time (perhaps he was just humouring his nephew).


With a game lasting only 20 minutes or so, I sneaked in a quick go earlier this week, and despite my efforts to load the questions in my favour by selecting Ian as captain and guests with football and cricket as their areas of expertise, it turns out my knowledge of 80s sport wasn’t sufficiently deep to secure a win. I always suspected that there weren’t many questions, and even in a single go it seemed that the same pool of multiple choice answers were re-used (eg two different questions on horse racing had the same four options as answers, in the same order). Rugby league and union have also been conflated into a single category – heresy!

Although they obviously have a limited shelf life, I do enjoy this kind of game, and revisiting this one reminds me that I once had a copy of Sky Sports Football Quiz, which a friend bought for me as a half joke, either because I made a comment about the cynical marketing and packaging of the game which prominently featured Kirsty Gallacher, or I made a joke about wanting the game because of that marketing (whatever the reason, I actually wouldn’t have bought it myself, honest.)

Actually…I say ‘once had a copy of’, do I still….? *rummages around in box of old crap*


Yes!!! Oh, it’s for the PSX. I forgot about that.

Next time: Mike Read’s Pop Quiz.