Quiz Climber [Free/$1.99] is about as simple as a trivia game can be. The game asks a question, you pick from one of four options, and then you move to the next one, bam, bam, bam. It'd be easy to write it off as a game that's not worth noting -- if I could just stop playing.
As trivia games go, this one does the job. It's published by Chillingo, but it was created by Relentless Software, the developers behind the Buzz! trivia game series. At the very least, this should give you some faith in the questions. Relentless does a great job of bringing in a variety of topics -- pop culture, sports, history and literature feature heavily -- with well-designed questions and answers. They're a British studio, but the questions offer a good mix of British and American influences, and they're occasionally surprisingly funny.
But the questions aren't what keeps me coming back. Rather, it's the way the whole game hinges on a single failure. Your Quizzel, some sort of chubby squirrel, ascends into the branches of a pair of trees as you answer questions, and the questions get more difficult as you reach new heights. You keep climbing until you fail to answer a single question, and with that one screw-up, you're done. Your position is marked and your high score is noted, and you're left to start over again.
I never stop wanting to start again when I fall, because the games are so quick and it always feels like that one mistake that cost me my run could have been avoided. It's even worse if you take the plunge and sign into Facebook, because then you're competing with your friends for who can reach the highest branch. I've had a running competition with a friend since the game was released -- right now I'm on top, but I know it won't be long until I'm overtaken. Even with a strong lead, scores are reset every week.
If avoiding even a single mistake is too much pressure, you can give yourself a break with a lifeline. You earn them by answering enough questions correctly, or you can buy them with in-app purchases. You can only use one per game so it hardly gets abusive, but it's nice to have the option. When you miss an answer while sitting right under another Quizzel and a new high score is within reach, you aren't going to want to sit back and accept failure.
When it comes down to it, Quiz Climber is an extremely straightforward game. If it weren't so totally addictive, I'd have a hard time recommending it. But at the low, low price of free for the ad-supported version, or $1.99 for the ad-free version, it's worth roping a few Facebook friends into competing with you. When you leap right past their Quizzels, leaving them frowning in your dust, you'll be glad you did.