Friday, December 21, 2007

Chris Reviews AnswerThat!

Digital Praise's latest release of Answer That! Adventures in Odyssey Edition invites fans of all ages to test their knowledge of the show with questions ranging from easy to difficult. Modeled after the popular "Scene It" DVD trivia series, Answer That! challenges players to answer questions from the video series, audio clips, and trivia cards. Although it has a limited appeal to the hardcore Odyssey fan, Answer That! offers a good deal of entertainment for the average fan or those new to the show.


I was pleasantly surprised with the board game design. The ability to play on four different paths was an added bonus that many will appreciate. Answer That! included four plastic player pieces which I thought were rather flimsy, but I did like the stickers you could affix onto the pieces. Whit, Eugene, and Connie made sense... and Tamika? She's not exactly one of the most popular characters, but at least she's one of the current characters. Someone like Tom, Bernard, or Katrina might have made more sense, since fans are more familiar with what they look like.


The game board consists of seven different types of spaces:

Eugenius tests your knowledge of Odyssey history and characters
Connie's Character Quotes dares you to finish quotes
Whit's Wisdom challenges you to answer Bible trivia
Room of Consequence sends you to a different spot on the board
My Play is an on-screen question for the rolling player
All Play is an on-screen question for all players
You Choose gives you the choice to select any of the above six options

As mentioned earlier, there are four different paths you can choose: two short paths, one medium path, and one long path. However, playing the short or medium paths will present some noticeable problems for players who have a good knowledge of Odyssey. Because the game allows players to take unlimited turns provided they answer each question correctly, a player could theoretically win the game in only a few moves. One of the problems I found with the Room of Consequence (ROC) was the ambiguity in the instructions. The rules seemed to indicate players could answer the question from the space to which they were directed from the ROC cards, but never provided specific details on when the player's turn ended. In my opinion, ROC cards should force players to end their turn after they've moved (either forward, backwards, or swap positions).

My biggest concern from the start was whether or not the trivia questions would be difficult enough. Digital Praise, thankfully, got it right when they chose to create double-sided trivia cards. One side lists Easy questions, while the opposite side shows Difficult questions. Those who have listened to most of the episodes will probably not see much difference, although there are definitely a handful of harder questions included on some of the cards.

Just as there are an assortment of questions in the trivia cards ranging from easy to (somewhat) difficult, so too do the on-screen questions offer a variety of challenges. Many of the DVD questions were in the Picture This category, which involves the identification of a particular location, episode, or character. Occasionally, the picture displayed would be from album artwork, but I found that too many of the images were from the video or book series. On the other hand, I particularly enjoyed the Chrono-Logic (placing four events in order) and Guess Who (guessing who is being described) categories. Of the seven categories offered in the DVD, those two offered the highest level of difficulty for episode-related questions.

A similarly fun category was In Your Ear, in which the question would be based off an audio clip from the radio series. It really made me want to listen to the episodes again, especially when they played clips from old or favorite shows. The only disappointment was that most of the audio clips gave you the answer in the actual clip. So instead of testing your Odyssey knowledge, it would simply test your listening capability. Admittedly, it would have been nice also if they had included more of the radio series clips, since the audio drama comprises such a large portion of Adventures in Odyssey!

Lasting Appeal

Answer That! boasts over 1000 trivia questions, half of which are on the trivia cards while the other half are on-screen questions. Unfortunately, the DVD does not offer the individual game feature which some Scene It and Trivial Pursuit DVD games include. As a result, don't be surprised if you get the same question more than once. In fact, on a few occasions, we received the exact same question in a row and during the same game! To the designers' credit, you can press the return button on your DVD remote to bypass repeat questions and automatically get a new one. For younger fans and those relatively new to Adventures in Odyssey, Answer That! will be a game which they can continue to enjoy for a long time. Older and long-time fans of the show, however, may quickly tire of the game and its lack of difficulty.


AnswerThat! is a fun and innovative game... and it's all about Adventures in Odyssey! In the end, determining the overall value of the game is highly dependent upon your knowledge of the radio series. If you are a casual fan and haven't listened to all the episodes, then you'll probably enjoy this game the most. If you are a die-hard fan and have listened to nearly every episode, however, then you may be disappointed. While Digitial Praise catered to the non-Odyssey fan by including many questions that could be answered by the casual or non-listener, perhaps they could have spent more time developing more difficult questions.

I found it very interesting that they included the following in their summer press release: "However, even if players haven't had any exposure to Adventures in Odyssey, they'll be able to answer many questions thanks to on-screen audio and video 'hints' -- a key to the game's multi-generational appeal." It doesn't seem like players who haven't had any exposure to Adventures would be interested in the game in the first place. Although it made sense from a marketing standpoint to widen the target range of their prospective customers, I don't know if it was the smartest move to make the game so easy considering most of the people purchasing Answer That! would have to be pretty big Odyssey fans to make the $40-$50 investment. Nevertheless, in spite of its flaws, Answer That! remains in my eyes a fun family DVD trivia game!

- Ability to choose length of play: short, medium, or long
- Lightning Play version on DVD
- New fans to Odyssey can participate
- Audio clips from the radio series, movie scenes from the video series

- Playing pieces are easily breakable
- Lack of separate games on the DVD (different questions per game)
- Many of the trivia card and on-screen questions are too easy
- Not enough clips from the radio series

Presentation: 4/5
Gameplay: 3/5
Lasting Appeal: 3/5
Overall Rating (not an average): 3.5/5

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Unofficial Podcast Ep. 28

It's been nearly three weeks since we spoke with Lauren Schaffel, but now we finally get to release the full interview! Due to some technical issues, we unfortunately ended up losing some sound quality during the recording. As a result, Sarah and I are not nearly as crystal clear as I would've preferred.

And yes, I do realize Lauren started with Adventures in Odyssey nine years ago and not eleven like I said on the podcast. Pretty poor mathematics on my part... but hey, blunders and mishaps aside, it was still a thrill having Lauren on the show! Hopefully, ya'll will enjoy the interview as much as we had recording it!

Right-click and save here to download.

Running Time: 41:18

Sarah's Answer That! Review!

Hey everyone!

Well, you finally get a blog post by Sarah - yay! I really am a person outside the voice! :D

I was so excited to get this game, and I played it as soon as I got home from college. I'm planning on having a small party to play it with some family friends this Friday, but sadly, I needed to post my review before then. I've played it several times through already, but if anything changes after Friday, I'll be sure to post something - though I doubt it would. ;)

Alright, I played the game twice through with my parents and each time played all he way around the board making sure to get plenty of both card and dvd related questions. My parents aren't really Adventure's in Odyssey fans, so that made it a little more interesting. I really enjoyed the game alot, and had fun with the questions. A lot of them seemed rather easy for me - but then, when you know the answer it's always easy, right? ;)

However, there were several questions that stumped me - some fairly, others not. I have never played the video games, and kept getting questions about them on the dvd, but I was able to figure a few out. The fair stumps were questions asking which episode a line came from or who said it, and some of those were kinda tricky!

The second round we played, we decided to try one of the presorted questions on the dvd - the one for those who didn't know Odyssey very well. I was under the impression that those would be non-AIO related, and I was apparently mistaken in that. They were still Odyssey related, but were really simple - and most of them had the answers in the question. That was a bit of a bummer, because ot made it feel rather dumbed down. Perhaps there are other sets that are just history/Bible related, but we were unable to find them. (If we locate them this weekend, I'll update this)

I also played the lightning round and had fun with it too.

Overall, I enjoyed this game a lot. The board and pieces were fun (though I thought that Tamika was a rather random choice for the only kid character...) and the questions on the cards were enjoyable as well. The dvd portion was also interesting (the theme gets a bit old after a while, however) and I really enjoyed getting to hear clips from episodes as well.

My final rating is probably a 4/5., and I recommend this game to any Odyssey fan out there. :D

God bless, and Merry Christmas Everyone! I hope some of you are blessed to get this under your tree this year. ;)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Countdown to the Spring Season Premiere!

Well, we have the names of the episodes for the next couple months. They've posted all the titles over at, and it looks like we'll be hearing some of the greatest Bernard shows of all-time.

December 22: Suspicious Minds
December 29: Room Mates
January 5: The Conscientious Cross-Guard
January 12: Feud for Thought
January 19: My Fair Bernard
January 26: First-Hand Experience
February 2: Third Degree
February 9: Blind Justice
February 16: Poor Loser
February 23: Bassett Hounds

...which, of course, leads us to the spring season premiere which airs on March 1: A Capsule Comes to Town. In honor of this momentous episode, I've added a countdown to the right-hand column. Only 75 more days, folks!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unofficial Podcast Ep. 27

Wow, it seems like forever since we've done a podcast! I guess that's what happens when exams hit... and hit hard! In this podcast, we review The Highest Stakes and Chip Off the Shoulder. As we mentioned in our blog, we'll be posting our review of Answer That! Adventures in Odyssey Edition sometime next week. Also, stay tuned for our interview with Lauren Schaffel, voice of Liz Horton!

Right-click and save here to download.

Running Time: 44:39

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Chip Off the Shoulder" Now Available!

So you might have noticed that we didn't release a podcast over the weekend. Considering final exams and studying have really eaten up a large portion of our time lately, we decided to postpone our podcast until later this week. That way, we can review The Highest Stakes in addition to this week's episode. Speaking of which, I might as well let ya'll know that Chip Off the Shoulder is now available! Click here to listen!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Updated Album 44 Cover Art

If you haven't already gotten the chance to hear The Highest Stakes II, I strongly encourage you to do so. What an incredible ending! I don't think a better resolution could have been scripted. Is it just me, or have the writers at Focus have really done a spectacular job with this past season of Adventures in Odyssey? During our interview, Nathan and Marshal promised they'd be wrapping up some storylines this season and boy have they ever! Let's hope next season, during which time the episodes from the 50th album will be airing, is as exciting as this one!

In other news, Album 44 has been repackaged, with only slight modifications from the original version. Essentially, they've condensed the previous cover into a more compact image. It's more or less the same cover, except made to fit as a regular CD insert.

As a side note, I really think Album 44 was where Odyssey really start to ramp things back up in terms of character and storyline development. While there were numerous episodes prior to this album that I immensely enjoyed, it wasn't until Eugene returned that the stakes were raised. The issues discussed and the messages they conveyed got deeper and more relevant to current culture. We were given a closer look at the family struggles Mandy faced and we were introduced to Kellie and the McKay family. We witnessed the brand new Meltsner arc (it should have been called The Search for Leonard) and were able to see more of Wooton's character. Finally, in this current season, it all came to a head as both Leonard and Grady accepted Christ. What an incredible finish to an amazing run... and there's still the spring season!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"The Highest Stakes II" Available!

Yep, and it's been out for just over 24 hours now, but you can listen to The Highest Stakes II right now! To those of you who have sent me reminders, I thank you verily. However, do realize that I check out the Town of Odyssey on an extremely consistent basis and that I am continually checking Oneplace for the latest episodes. So just because I don't post an update telling ya'll that the episode is up doesn't mean I'm not aware of it. ;)

As you may or may not know, Sarah and I were recently afforded the opportunity to speak with Lauren Schaffel. We had an awesome time talking and reminiscing about her time with Adventures in Odyssey! She's truly a multi-talented and extremely well-spoken individual... who apparently sounds a lot like our very own Sarah. But you'll have to wait for another couple weeks before getting a chance to hear our discussion with her... sorry! We still have to review The Highest Stakes and Chip Off the Shoulder, after which we will release the interview for your listening pleasure!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Random Musings

I suppose I should answer the question I proposed to ya'll over a week ago.

What person(s) are you most grateful for and why?

Obviously, my mom and dad are the people for whom I am most grateful due to their involvement in my life for the past nineteen years. It's truly been a remarkable journey thus far and I can honestly say there have been no one more loving, generous, and committed to me in my entire life. I know it's not always like that for everyone, as we have seen in the lives of characters like Kellie, Grady, or Eric. But regardless of your present situation, I pray each one of you would find someone in who will pour into you the same kind of love my parents have shown me. Whether this be your parents, your pastor, a mentor, or even a close friend, may you be blessed just as I have been these last couple decades.

Okay, onto more exciting discussion! I trust you, like myself, are all expecting The Highest Stakes II to be released on Oneplace sometime over the next couple days. But my question for you is this: What do you think about the latest controversial issue into which Odyssey has delved? We just came off another emotionally powerful two-parter with Life in the Third Person, which also centered around a broken family. This time, instead of a divorce, gambling is the source of the conflict. There hasn't been much discussion on the message boards about The Highest Stakes I, but there was one post in particular which caught my eye.

I, too, was very surprised to hear from Grady's dad. When it was announced that all these story arcs would be concluded this season, I was sure it would be the season of happy endings . . . I do like happy endings, but having so many at the same time seems very unrealistic. Much as I was glad that Mandy's storyline ended happily, I hope this one isn't quite so perfect. And, I think a bittersweet ending is quite possible (and would be my choice).

LizzieG, the author of this message, made a good point regarding the "problem" of having happy endings. We could have a lengthy debate about whether or not it was unrealistic for Stephen and Rachel Straussburg to fix their marriage like they did, but for the sake of your time, I'll save us the trouble.

Consider this. What is the purpose of Adventures in Odyssey? Showing the harsh reality of life or showing the hope we have in Christ? I would argue for the latter. Had Stephen and Rachel Straussburg not gotten back together, what message would that have conveyed? That divorces happen to Christian couples, too? That's all well and good, but we already know that! To be honest, I don't believe Odyssey shies away from reality at all. Just look at the opening scene of The Chosen One I. If anything, the fact that Stephen and Rachel were even contemplating divorce as an option illustrated reality in itself. So to say that the Straussburg arc was unrealistic is besides the point, regardless of whether or not that assertion is true. People don't need to hear yet another example of a failed marriage. What kids (and listeners of all ages) need to be taught is that marriages can be saved... through prayer and through the power of Christ.

I believe the same can be said of Grady's father, Carson McKay. Sure, it might be satisfying to see a bittersweet ending with him having to abandon his family once more. Once again I ask, what message would that convey?

There have been individuals who have complained that Odyssey has become too soap-operatic in its style of writing. I believe the contrary. Soap operas are specifically conflict-driven, in which there are relational, marital, or financial issues that plague its characters. Is healthy, Biblical resolution ever demonstrated in those shows, whereby the interests of all parties involved are satisfied? Hardly. For the most part, Odyssey has set itself apart from soap operas by showing both the conflict and the resolution, and all in the context of a Biblical worldview. When it starts to depart from its values and principles and no longer teaches its listeners a moral or Biblical lesson, then it can become soap-operatic. But as far as I'm concerned, the writers and producers at Focus have done a masterful job remaining faithful to their ultimate goal-- to share the love and hope of Jesus Christ.