- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 1, 2009

Aladdin’s wisecracking Genie dons a game-show host’s tuxedo and gives Wii families a fun way to spend evenings in Disney Th!nk Fast (Disney Interactive Studios, $49.99).

This trivia challenge offers a cornucopia of more than 5,000 questions about Disney’s classic animated efforts mixed with general information topics and a few minigames.

The big blue spirit guides up to four contestants through a series of rounds and keeps the action moving along with sarcasm, quips and one-liners — all in a pretty decent imitation of Robin Williams in that role.

A match starts when Genie magically transports players to one of four locations — Regents Park (“101 Dalmatians”), Ariel’s Grotto (“The Little Mermaid”), Hawaiian Beach (“Lilo and Stitch”) or the Pridelands (“The Lion King”) — to compete in up to 15 rounds featuring three all-things-Disney knowledge levels — some, a little or a lot.

Players can initially choose Clarabell Cow, Horace Horse, Donald, Daisy, Mickey or Minnie to play as their avatars, unlocking new Disney icons as high point totals are reached.

Players answer the majority of the multiple-choice questions using a flick of the wrist and the Wiimote or Nunchuk. I found simply using the directional arrows on the Wiimote the least complicated.

Additionally, each of the play environments has a special game character that shows up to ask questions about the movie they were in. Game play can last from 30 minutes to more than an hour depending on whether a short or long game is chosen.

On-screen characters interact with each other on a “Wheel of Fortune”-style set design, and occasionally add a bit of harmless taunting as they steal points from each other. Donald, with his lack of self-control, provides some serious temper tantrums — which offers frustrated players a chance to laugh at themselves when their fingers are just not quick enough.

Depending on the round, players will see movie images, clips and photographs and, for example, in the sketch questions, a slowly revealed pencil drawing of a Disney character.

Keeping things fresh, players can create customized games in which they choose seven of the 15 question variations.

Some favorite rounds include “Odd One Out” where images of the four muses from Hercules whirl. When they come to a stop, one is just a bit different from the other three. Win points by being quick enough to spot the one that is different.

Many games rely on choosing one of four images as an answer, or putting four images in order. It can be nerve-wracking trying to remember who was shortest to tallest out of Jaafar, Aladdin, Jasmine and Abu, however, this is an example of a game that can quickly level the playing field between adult and child.

Learning time: Disney, Disney and more Disney minutia pummels impressionable brains. However, there is a decent supply of questions geared toward learning. For example, in the 50-50 challenge, questions are simply “Which is heavier?” with players choosing between a photo of a rock or an egg, “Which flies higher?” with the choice being a fighter jet or a helicopter or “What has more teeth?” a saw or human mouth.

I was pleasantly surprised when a 9-year-old competitor beat me to the question “Which country borders France?” quickly choosing the Italian flag over the British.

Age range: Disney Th!nk Fast easily brings the whole family to the couch for some fast-paced play. The Wii controls and hand-eye coordination may make the game frustrating for children younger than 6 or 7, but everyone in the family will enjoy being the first to respond, steal points from an opponent or decipher the drawing before mom and dad.

Even grandma will appreciate the classic Disney film content from stalwarts such as “Sleeping Beauty” and “Snow White” while the 6-year-old granddaughter can smoke her on questions such as “How many arms does Stitch have?” from the famed franchise.

I took part in a very close, high-scoring game on the toughest of levels with another adult and a pair of 9-year-olds who had a basic background of Disney.

The customized game option also works well to balance player strengths and offer a strength for everyone, leveling the playing field among age and skill levels.

Final advice: Compared to other trivia challenges, such as Scene It! Box Office Smash for the Xbox 360 and Buzz! Quiz TV for the PlayStation 3, Th!nk Fast more than holds its own for junior players. In fact, if the design would stop the Disney marketing campaign and focus on offering more general trivia — I think downloadable question packs for the Wii is certainly not a ridiculous request it might be the best of the bunch.

Joseph Szadkowski’s ROMper Room is a place for children and their parents to escape the world of ultraviolent video games and use that gaming system or computer to actually learn something while having fun. Send e-mail to jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.