August 13, 2014

Review: Idiotest

How many letters are in the alphabet? If you answered "11", then this is the show for you.

Idiotest is one of the few new GSN originals that looks like an actual, traditional game show. It’s on a stage, people answer questions for money. There’s a bonus round. That alone gives the show a couple extra points in its favor. And, although all the trappings of a game show are here, nothing seems quite full-fledged enough to be a great game show.

Based on the popular iPhone app Idiot Test, which was already based on a slew of other deceptively-simple logic quizzes online, Idiotest puts teams of two against seemingly easy puzzles, but everything in the image is fair game. Teams will play fun sub-games like Words Have Meanings and Phrasing Is Everything in their heads in order to solve the visual puzzles presented to them.

Emceeing the show is Chelsea Lately contributor and stand-up comedian Ben Gleib, who looks like he’s extremely uncomfortable hosting the show. His body maintained an awkward stance the whole show, he tended to gobble up or otherwise mumble his punchlines, and his rapport with the contestants never seemed to be genuine. There’s ways of mocking your contestants in a jovial manner (see: The Weakest Link, Win Ben Stein’s Money) but Gleib was a bit too glib with the hosting.

The game itself is actually really fun to play along with. Each Idiotest is a puzzle. The faster the player solves the puzzle, the more money the player could bank. Answer the puzzle incorrectly and bank nothing. Most of the puzzles are visual: tap the thing that satisfies whatever the puzzle is asking for. For instance, in a daytime picnic scene of a T-Rex’s birthday party, the question of which item brightens up the T-Rex’s day most, the correct answer wasn’t the cupcake with candles, but rather the sun shining bright in the sky. Other puzzles were rote thinkers designed to eat away clock time. For instance, how many months have the letter “D” in their name? If you’re going through them all from January, you’re going to eat a lot of time: December’s at the very end.

Two teams of two players compete in three rounds, each with two puzzles. The first round, teams play. The second round, each player takes an Idiotest solo. The final round, each player takes a solo head-to-head Idiotest. The team with the highest score plays one bonus Idiotest, one at a time. If both players get the Smart Money Idiotest correct, they walk away with $10,000. It’s a solid format, the puzzles are easy to play along with at home and the set is colorful and dynamic. The payouts, however, are laughably cheap: One round ended with a score of $100 to $80. That’s 16 Fast Money Points. Compared to the potential budget-busting Chase games, ending a round of any modern game show with under $100 screams “CHEAP.”

Overall, despite the weakness in host and the cheap payouts, it’s nice to see a show that doesn’t completely rely on pure trivia knowledge. Idiotest has awesome play-along value, and getting a question right gives a really nice feeling of self-satisfaction.