Review: Bob Barker would show Buzz who's boss.
It's safe to say that the PlayStation 2's moment in the sun has passed. What once was the most dominant console in the world is now an afterthought that only lives on through its massive library of classic titles and downgraded ports from the Wii. But Sony has other plans for the PS2. They're taking aim at Nintendo's sleek white system and turning the PS2 into a party machine. It started with SingStar, a karaoke game that is ridiculously popular in the UK and it continues with Buzz! The Mega Quiz, a game show trivia game that also has roots in England.
Buzz! The Mega Quiz can only be played with the included Buzz Buzzers, a set of four plastic controllers (that plug into the USB port, so they also work on the PS3) that have a big red button on the top and four differently colored buttons on the side. With its realistic signaling devices for every player, Buzz! attempts to create the most immersive game show experience ever. By combining equal parts of Jeopardy, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?, The Weakest Link and Trivial Pursuit, the game certainly wins points for its presentation. The game even has its own hyperactive host, also named Buzz. Buzz the host is crass, insulting and was clearly modeled after some unholy "If they mated" scenario between The Weakest Link's Anne Robinson and Richard Dawson's Killian from The Running Man
Buzz! can be played by a single player or two or more can play the "real" Buzz! game show. The single-player mode is fun, but the only challenge is attempting to best your previous high score. The real fun of Buzz! comes in the multiplayer party-style game that can be played by two to eight players (two sets of Buzz Buzzers can be hooked together to create this superquiz). Players start by choosing a character to represent them in the game (anything from a crazed Superhero to an opera Viking to a Bill Gates-like geek). They also choose a unique buzz-in sound such dogs barking, a car horn or the ever popular belch.
Once everyone's set up, the real fun begins as players are thrust into six different trivia contests. Point Picker
is the first game as players answer questions with no time limit to try to score points. Fastest Finger
, as you can imagine, rewards the first person to buzz in correctly with the correct answer. Pie Fight
pits player against player as a correct answer earns a player the right to throw a pie at another player. Two hits and you're out and last person standing gets the points. Globetrotters
sends players around the world to answer questions about various countries. Point Stealer
once again rewards the first person to buzz in correctly, but the prize is another player's points.
Finally, the game throws all players into The Final Countdown
. The points each player has accumulated so far are converted into time while Buzz shoots out questions. A correct answer adds time to a player's countdown while a wrong answer takes time away. If a player's time drops to zero they are eliminated. The last player with time remaining becomes the Buzz champion for the day.
Trivia games are routinely looked down upon in the video game world and I could never understand why. Knowledge and trivia are the cornerstones of all great games and I consider pure question-and-answer sessions great fun. I'm also a Jeopardy-junkie. That said, Buzz! certainly has its moments of party game fun. The box boasts over 5,000 questions covering such topics as movies, TV, celebrities, history, animals, sports and other. Although, my first few games revealed over a dozen questions referring to Friends and another half dozen that referenced James Bond, so the question set is probably not as deep as "5,000 questions!" would indicate.
The graphics and sounds provide a lively, if dated (the game was originally released in the UK in 2005), feel to the proceedings. The only really major misgiving about Buzz! is that it takes a long time to finish all of the questions in one 'show'. There is also a good bit of dead time as the game (loudly) loads the next question. You can actually hear the motor in the PS2 slowly grinding away while it accesses the next question. It's a bit of a catch-22, the more people you have, the more fun Buzz! is. But the more people you have, the more unwieldy the game gets between load times and trying to cram a bunch of people in front of a TV.