Review: Buzz Master Quiz (Sony PSP)

Buzz Master Quiz
Developer: Relentless
Publisher: SCEA
Genre: Trivia/Game Show
Release Date 09/23/2008

Have you ever wanted to be on a game show? I know I have. I was an expert at home player of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for years and knew in my heart that I could win the million easily if I ever got on the show. Sure, I’m ignoring the fact that every time I played an at home version, I failed miserably on an early question that I should have got right, but I would have been GREAT I tell you!

Anyway, I’ve seen the Buzz games around for the PS2 for a while. I thought the idea was great, even if I didn’t want to fork over the cash to get the game and four buzzers. Looking back, it would have been a great party game, but I don’t think it would have ever been used otherwise. However, when I saw that a Buzz game was headed to my beloved PSP, I knew I was going to buy it.

It’s time to earn that million, baby!

Modes

Given its party game atmosphere, Buzz is meant to played with as many people as possible, but fortunately it includes a single player game as well. After all, this is a handheld and not a console game intended to be played on a big TV.

Solo Quiz lets you run through about a dozen or so challenges with the goal of getting gold medals on each challenge and unlocking trophies for jobs well done. You start off with three challenges. Once you manage to get at least a bronze on each of these, you’ll get a timed challenge in which you have to answer as many questions as possible in a set amount of time. Most of the regular challenges give you a set number of questions or have some hook to them, like incorporating the point sucking mechanics or being a straight out movie quiz. You’ll get trophies for answering questions correctly in under a second, getting ten in a row, getting 5000 points etc. It’s a fun mode when you’re on your own, but sadly there’s no option to download new quizzes or play through the main game against a computer opponent. If you’re playing by yourself, this is it.

The real star of the game is the multiplayer modes, and there are three different ones to play around with. You’ve got pass around, ad hoc, and even a game master mode

Pass around is meant to function with just one PSP. Anywhere from 2-6 players can participate and each will pick an avatar that Buzz will identify them with. Every round, the play order will be shuffled and the game will tell you which person to pass the PSP to. Once that person’s answered the question, they’ll pass it on to the next player on the list and so on and so forth. They do manage to incorporate some unique elements into this. For instance, in a mode round call Picture This, players will have to pick a section of a picture for the next player. In turn, that player will have to answer a question based on what they’re seeing. Also, there is another round called Short Fuse in which a bomb is ticking away and after a set amount of time has passed, will explode and cost whoever’s turn it was a ton of points. Players can hold on to the bomb for as long as possible to screw over their opponents. This is the meat of the game and is where the most fun will be had.

Ad hoc just allows you to play with multiple PSPs. Players won’t be able to mess with each other because each player has their own system, so a lot of chaos is lost for a more cohesive feel. The upside is that no one will be sitting idly by waiting for the PSP to go to them.

Game master mode grants one player control over the system. He’ll ask all of the questions and give all the points himself based on the answers the players give. The game master has complete control here, as he can add or subtract points at will. This makes it kind of broken. You really want to make sure you trust someone before giving them this responsibility. This is the only multiplayer mode that doesn’t feature multiple rounds. There are fifteen questions that everyone is asked. Whoever has the most points wins.

While there aren’t a huge number of modes, Buzz manages to bring enough to the table so that you’ll always have something to do with the game, no matter how many handhelds you have in the area.

Graphics

What Buzz really offers here is nothing more than some flashy intros followed by an endless amount of static screens. Oh yeah, I can’t forget Buzz himself.

From the start, you’ll simply choose a play style. Buzz will slide in and introduce himself. He’s only a Muppet, but he looks good anyway. After that, you’ll see an intro video to let you know what kind of round you’re facing. These look nifty, from the exploding bomb for short fuse to the single celled wonder of virus mode. However, they’re just short clips.

Beyond that, you’ve got menu after menu and screen after screen of questions. I could go into detail as to how the screen is placed, but that’s why we include images with reviews.

Overall, there isn’t much to look at, but what’s there is sharp at least.

Audio

I’m not sure why Buzz has an Australian voice when the dev team is British, but that’s how things go I guess. In any case, he sounds fine and comes off just as cheesy as he should. He is a game show host after all. Sadly, there aren’t that many different phrases for him to say. You’ll hear a ton of one liners over and over again.

You also have another voice that asks the questions. He does a great job as well. I normally don’t go on about annunciation, but if you’re not the player with the PSP, you’ll have to rely on your ears to get the question. Thankfully, you can understand every thing he says.

The music and various sound effects are stereotypical game show flare and do wonders to add to feel of the game. From the ticking of the clock which I swear they pulled from The Price is Right to the trumpets that go off when you get a question right, the audio is near perfect for this type of game. Remember. This is a trivia game and not an epic. The music is appropriate even if it isn’t necessarily good.

Gameplay

There really isn’t much to talk about here.

You’re given a question and it is your job to get the correct answer by tapping the corresponding face button. You always have four options for any multiple choice question.

There will be times when you only have a certain amount of time to answer, but you always have plenty. For some challenges, the amount of points you get for a correct answer will be determined by how fast you answered. Getting the points will slowly build up your score, which will give you a bronze, silver, or gold medal at the end.

The biggest change comes during the ranking challenges. These challenges present you with four options that you must rank according by alphabet, date, length, age, etc. These can get a bit hectic since you’re trying to get the answer in as soon as possible, but your biggest threat is hitting the wrong button because you were rushing.

Here’s a couple of the differing round types that are worth mentioning: Short Fuse presents you with a bomb that will detonate after a certain amount of time. Your job is to answer your question as fast as possible to pass the bomb off to someone else. It’s basically hot potato. Virus mode will rapidly deduct points from your total until you answer a question. If you get it right, it goes to the next player. If you get it wrong, you’ve got to answer a new question and your points will disappear faster than you can blink. Snapshot is perhaps my favorite. You’ll answer a question and then be given a grid. You’ll randomly unlock one of the panels which will reveal part of a picture that you’ll ultimately need to answer another question about. Getting that one right with the fewest amount of panels revealed gives you a huge amount of bonus points.

Overall, this is a decent setup for the game and works well. There are no real problems with the gameplay because it is so simple. This isn’t the dev team’s first trivia game and it shows. They know what works and what doesn’t.

Replayabilty

This one’s a mixed bag.

If you’re playing by yourself, the game has very little replay value. There just aren’t enough modes and not enough questions to justify playing this more than a few hours by yourself. I saw several questions repeated just on my first solo quiz run! That’s just no good.

However, the multiplayer replay value is much higher. This game is perfect for long car rides thanks the pass around mode. I also had some fun goofing around with my family with this thing. Let’s face it, what good is it proving what an amazing trivia buff you are if there are no other people around? You need someone to brag to.

And of course, you need someone to beat.

Balance

First of all, I’d like to say that balance is near impossible to judge here. After all, this is a game show video game. Therefore, there are certain aspects meant to help cause huge shifts in the momentum. The rapidly depleting points during Virus will test even the player with the best score. Someone with a low score can hold on to the bomb to the last second and then drop it on the player with the best score.

Let’s just say that I was dominating a game for most of the battle. I answered question after question correctly while my brother was struggling. Suddenly, we get to Short Fuse and he takes his sweet old time and I get the bomb so late that it literally explodes the millisecond the question is asked. I ended up losing the whole game because of this.

This is a love or hate aspect of the game. You will either love how it emulates a real game show in that no one is ever truly untouchable. You might just hate it because you were the one in first place.

Personally, I think it adds a great aesthetic to the game, but I can’t stand losing when the game tells me that my brother answered over two thirds of his questions incorrectly.

Originality

I haven’t found a PSP game yet that utilizes a pass around feature the way that Buzz does. Electronic pass around games like Bop It and Simon used to be all the craze, and I’m guessing that this could get a cult following simply because you only need one copy of the game to play with a whole group of people.

Otherwise, this is like every other Buzz game before it. There’s no reason to mess with the successful formula Sony’s got here.

Addictiveness

I love trivia. Multiple choice questions have always been a personal strength for me. I can finish a one hundred question test about ten to twenty minutes before everyone else in the room. (I did this countless time in high school and college. It did NOT make me popular.) As it was, I couldn’t put the game down until I finished all of the solo quizzes. I had to prove that I was smarter than the game; even it meant answering a ridiculous amount of celebrity gossip questions. How I got those right I’ll never know.

However, like most game shows, Buzz is best played once in a while or else you run the risk of getting bored. After all, you don’t play Trivial Pursuit all night with the buddies, right? It can be fun for a while, but the fun just doesn’t last long after the first hour or so.

Appeal Factor

The Buzz series has been doing pretty well for itself, but fans probably won’t grab this game unless they don’t have a PS3. This is thanks to the new PS3 game having thousands more questions, downloadable quizzes, and the ability to create your own quiz. This game has none of those.

Otherwise, the game is pretty cheap. It was only twenty dollars brand new, which I find to be extremely reasonable for a game that you’ll definitely get some mileage out of at parties and the like. I’m guessing a lot of people will pick this up simply because of the budget price.

Miscellaneous

I mentioned just now how there are no downloadable quizzes. This boggles the mind. Exit let me download dozens of new levels, so why can’t I get even a few new questions for this game? It could have made this game supremely replayable in that you could be constantly expanding your question repertoire.

The ability to create your own quizzes would have been useful too. What party wouldn’t be better served if a question suddenly came up that said “Which of these fellow party goers recently implied that there were two moons orbiting Earth?”

I’m not joking. That actually happened.

Anyway, the game would have been much better had they added just a little bit more to it. The unused potential has to hurt the game overall, and it does. There just isn’t as much content as you’d hope.

The Scores

Modes: Enjoyable
Graphics: Above Average
Audio: Great
Gameplay: Decent
Replayability: Good
Balance: Mediocre
Originality: Above Average
Addictiveness: Below Average
Appeal Factor: Below Average
Miscellaneous: Poor
Final Score: Decent Game!

Short Attention Span Summary
Buzz Master Quiz won’t wow you with its single player experience. However, its collection of modes and game show feel will help it excel in the multiplayer market. For only twenty dollars, I’d recommend this to any trivia buff or anyone looking for a good multiplayer game for long car rides. Unless you’re looking for nothing but a solo experience, you won’t be disappointed.

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