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Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action on Game and Player

Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action

Ed Kirchgessner  //  November 20, 2007

Perhaps all your film trivia isn't worthless after all.


ho hasn't dreamed of winning it big on a quiz show? Sure, those folks that appear on Jeopardy seem pretty smart, but most of us are confident we'd perform just as well under pressure. With the release of Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action on the Xbox 360, players are finally able to see how well they and their lightning fast reflexes would fare against their peers. Based on the board game of the same name, Scene It is an important release for Microsoft: this title's high accessibility and the included "big button" controllers are clearly a bid to take a piece of the casual market from the Nintendo juggernaut.

The new "big button" controller:
it could have been so much better.
It's hard to review Scene It without talking about the game's packed-in controllers. Basically, the design is an Xbox 360 gamepad sans shoulder buttons, but its abruptly new look might lead some to believe they're playing on a new platform altogether. Although these controllers should work well enough for quiz and puzzle games, the combination "big button"/d-pad which dominates its front face is hardly up to the challenge of even the most basic of on-screen navigation tasks. Substantial enough for the limited use they're bound to receive, the controllers obviously suffered from Microsoft's cutting corners in design – for instance, the guide button is not backlit, so one never really knows if their controller is on or off until it's time to enter a command. I'm also a bit confused as to why these controllers transmit via infrared and not the system's now-standard RF. The package includes a USB infrared receiver which, though functional, adds unnecessary wires to a peripheral that could have been so elegant.

It's Monkeybone! Monkeybone!
Luckily, most of the "big button" controller's shortcomings are overshadowed by Scene It's terrific implementation on the 360. This really is everything you loved about the board game, minus the board. Much like Wii Sports or Guitar Hero, Scene It is a casual game that's bound to excite traditional and non-traditional gamers alike. To help me with my playtesting, I recruited my friends Ben and Beth. The word "gamer" hasn't applied to Ben since he beat Ninja Gaiden back in middle school while Beth is the antithesis of the classic video game player – though she'll often sit on the couch and look on quizzically as I play through marathon sessions of Halo 3, the idea of picking up a controller and joining in is probably as foreign as it is unappealing.

As the game's title suggests, Scene It is a movie trivia game. Players are presented with film clips, production stills and script excerpts, and are then asked multiple choice questions about what they've seen or heard. It's a simple idea that worked well enough on DVD, but the added interaction that the 360 version allows really pushes the title over the top. Within our first round of questions, my two co-testers and I had stopped worrying about the funky new controllers in our hands and instead were busy regurgitating our libraries of inane film trivia. Sure, we occasionally fell victim to an incorrect button press, but for the most part, we spent the time enjoying each other's company. And did we ever spend the time – I think Ben said it best when he looked at his watch and said "we've been playing this for forty-five minutes?!?" Sure, Scene It isn't perfect: the initial setup screen is slightly confusing, the in-game narrator can be grating and certain films come up way too often (you'd think Splash was an Oscar winner after playing a few rounds).

Still, Scene It succeeds where so many other casual games fail. While Mario Party may offer each player a favorite game type, Scene It ensures that everyone is engaged all of the time. As the holidays approach, I can't think of any other title (particularly on the 360) that will do a better job of drawing in every member of the family for a fun game night. This is the first party game that remembered to invite everyone.

Scene It? Lights, Camera, Action



Screenlife / WXP


Microsoft Game Studios

NA Release

November 6, 2007


Play Mode

ESRB Rating

In Favor

  • Fun for anyone (literate)
  • Great interactivity
  • Covers a variety of genres


  • Controllers merely functional
  • Grating announcer
  • Limited replayability

G&P Rating

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