Few things are clear upon opening Hanx101 Trivia, a new mobile game for the Apple Arcade that BlueLine Studios made in partnership with Tom Hanks. For starters, it is not Tom Hanks-specific trivia, as one might have guessed. In fact, I have yet to find one question that even mentions a film that Tom Hanks starred in, though I’m hopeful one of the over 58,000 questions available at the start of the game will eventually ask me about one of the most prolific and successful actors of all time. Especially since, you know, this is his game.
Instead, at the center of Hanx101 Trivia is “Hanx,” which is either the name of some sort of trivia robot or Tom Hanks’s gamertag. Unclear! The opening scene also reminds players that Tom Hanks has an app called “Hanx Writer” that allows your keyboard to make typewriter sounds. (I’m happy for you, Tom.) Hanx then informs me that I will now be answering 101 questions on various different topics. The first “world” on the game board is army-themed, with tanks and a helmet-like design for the boundaries of the trivia island. It quickly becomes clear that the theme doesn’t seem to matter. Is it because Hanks starred in Saving Private Ryan? Is it because of the scenes in Forrest Gump when Hanks’s hero serves in the army? Doesn’t seem like it. No part of this game so far feels shaped by Tom Hanks. I’m answering sports trivia about the nicknames of famous hurlers and music trivia about what songs Seals Croft sings. It seems like Hanx101 has an age demo in mind.
There’s one particular celebrity guessing section called “Who’s This?” where the game inexplicably shows you demonically warped pictures of celebrities. Sometimes, Hanx101 would even do some light face-mashing, asking if the abomination you were looking at was Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt smashed together, or Leo DiCaprio and Neil Patrick Harris’s messed-up-looking baby. Another silly section, called “Spell This,” was equally brain-melting. It asked me the correct way to spell “Rotate,” giving me “Rotayt” and “Rotait” as the two other options. Many of the history-based questions also just force you to guess between various years. Questions like, “Did X event occur in 1912, 1915, or 1923,” for example, are common. Working my way through 101 Hanx101 Trivia questions turns out to be excruciatingly boring.
By the time I get to Question #41, I reach a new map. This one has a city theme! Hanx101 never informs me why I was in the army world previously, and it quickly becomes clear that the city map is just another background with no purpose. The game board also progresses from question to question linearly, so I don’t even have a character or body that can walk around the cartoon town. Bafflingly, there’s a section of the city map next to a basketball court where the round of trivia was “politics,” instead of “sports,” so it seems like the maps don’t have any effect on gameplay whatsoever. After the grueling 101 questions, I received…