You Are the Ref/You Are the Umpire Reviews—Who Are You?
You Are the Ref and You Are the Umpire from Four Door Lemon are two different games, but essentially identical. So I’m doing both in one review, so as to save my sanity. One covers soccer (or football, as the rest of the world prefers to call it), and the other covers cricket, which is a sport popular in the UK, Caribbean, Australia, and parts of Asia (India/Pakistan). They are trivia games, not so much about the sports themselves, but the official rules of the sports, putting you in a situation a referee or umpire might be in and asking you which multiple choice answer is the correct one.
While I have some exposure to soccer from being a kid, I grew up in the short-lived “indoor” soccer era, where the game was played not on fields, but inside, sort of like in a hockey rink, only without the ice. The idea being that there would be a higher score, and thus Americans would find it more entertaining. Which they did for a while, for about a decade or so.
So in other words, I know virtually nothing about either subject (the only soccer players I can even name are Daryl Doran, who actually used to be my neighbor, and Slobo Illijevski, and the only cricket player would be the Fifth Doctor in Doctor Who). This makes it somewhat hard to gauge how relevant the questions are. But at their core, You Are the Ref/You Are the Umpire are trivia games. Trivia games I understand.
Anyway, You Are the Ref/You Are the Umpire have three different modes: Sudden Death, Assessment, and Name the Player. All use the basic format of a trivia game—they present you with a question, then you simply have to pick the correct answer out of three choices. Sudden Death and Assessment are similar, as they both present rules situations. The only real difference is that Sudden Death is a game; you are timed, and when you answer incorrectly, the game is over and a score is presented. Assessment just lets you answer the questions leisurely, without a score.
I say “question,” but in reality these are more like long paragraphs, often detailing a convoluted situation, complete with amusing illustrations. Sometimes the “correct” answers are rather subjective, though; for instance, one was about the coaches complaining about the officiating of one of your crew members. If you pick “Do nothing,” it says you answered incorrectly, even though in the explanation of the rules, it says you don’t really have to do anything, and you just have the discretion to.
So really, it’s not even about the rules, but how the designers of the game feel you should interpret the rules. I don’t know if they got some famous officials to weigh in on this or not. So one wonders how seriously you should take their advice, if you were truly an umpire or ref (Edit: Apparently these are written by a well known official).
Name the Player plays like Sudden Death, except that you are presented with a drawing of a player and must pick their name from the choices given. I have no idea who any of these people are, if they are big names or what, and how recognizable they are or aren’t. All I know is that I didn’t come across Daryl Doran or Slobo. I thought I came across The Doctor, but apparently not.
I think this mode should have been reversed; instead of being given a face and three names, you would be given a name and presented with three faces. If nothing else, just to mix things up. But also because it sometimes falls into that trap of giving you 3 similar names. Like, say, Henry Blofeld, Harry Bloomfield, and Harrison Bergeron. Which I’ve always found to be unfair in trivia games, because you might have a vague memory of who it is but can’t quite name him. Then you see a name, but which one? They’re all so close. I guess it depends on how hardcore you want your trivia games.
While the game itself is extremely simple, they spent quite a bit of time and effort on the artwork, which looks pretty good. There’s a gallery where you can view the unlocked pictures. Of the scenes, not the players. Other than an annoying theme song, there’s not much in the way of sound to this. I think they missed an opportunity by not having “Gooooooal!” played when you get an answer correct, at least in You Are the Ref.
It’s really hard to judge a game like this, because it aimed to fulfill a very small niche, one of which I don’t happen to be the target audience. With that said, I think it could have been a better trivia game. For one, who likes solo trivia games? A multiplayer option where you pass around the Vita/phone/tablet seems like something essential to a trivia game.
Beyond that, the single player mode is rather limited, because they could have come up with a more in-depth game aspect than just a sudden death mode. That can be fun for a score attack sort of gameplay, but it needs something deeper for solitary play.
They’re also iOS ports and, of course, missing features like Internet leaderboards and achievements. Just once I’d like a PS Mobile game (or Mini) that has more stuff than the iOS version, not less. But still, if you really want a cricket or soccer/football rules trivia game, then it’s a solid, if unspectacular, choice. It does what it advertises, and it has a decent number of questions, so you do get what you pay for.
You are the Ref: 5/10
You are the Umpire: 5/10