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Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.3    CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 20 MB

Music Challenge
August 29, 2007 | Michael Miller

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With the iPod being as ubiquitious as it is, most people are, by now, aware that it also houses games. At least, if you are a conscientious Inside Mac Games visitor, and you should be, you would know because of the iPod game reviews we have posted.

So most people are no doubt aware that the iPod comes with a nifty game built-in that puts your own good music to use in a trivia game. It plays a clip of a random song, and you have to try and identify it. If you were not aware of this, you now are, which allows us to get to the meat of this review.

Music Challenge takes the iPod game, puts it on your Mac, and adds several hopefully wizz-bang features. The one major aspect that has always been missing from the iPod version, and that Music Challenge provides (aside, obviously, from putting it on your Mac) is the opportunity for more than one person to play. Sure, you could always both try to guess, but it's not nearly the same thing as having separate scores, and different questions directed at you.

The game works by asking how many players there are, and then beginning a game divided into three rounds of six questions for each player. Each round gives you progressively more points per question, with the final round giving you enough to where you have a chance to tip the balance of the game if you've been doing poorly early on. The game plays a quick clip either from some point in the song or at the beginning, depending on what your settings are. Once you feel you've figured out what the correct answer is (and yes, there is a time limit) the player clicks either on the answer or on a button that has a corresponding number to the answer. It would have been really impressive if the developer had harnessed the Mac's built in voice recognition so that answers could be given verbally (anyone remember how you could enter cheat codes by speaking in Warcraft II?), although given some of the bizarre names of bands, albums, and song titles out there it might be a stretch for the technology to handle.

One of the areas Music Challenge expands on is the type of questions asked by the game. From the sound clips, you are sometimes asked to identify the artist, the album name, or the song name. Another significantly cool feature is that if you have enough album artwork stored, it will ask you to make an identification using the album art. Thanks to this, I have come to realize that there is truly some uninformative album art out there, unless you are quite obsessive about your music library. Then again, if you have a lot of album artwork, you may well be.

The game can draw it's musical source from several locations - iTunes, including iTunes playlists, a folder on your computer, or an iPod, introducing the possibility that, after you have schooled your friends thanks to your extensive knowledge of your Norwegian death metal, they can whip out their iPods and engage in sweet, sweet revenge to the sounds of country western music.


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