Review: Buzz! Quiz World (Sony PS3)

Buzz Quiz World!
Publisher: SCEE
Developer: Relentless Software
Release Date: 11/11/2009
Genre: Quiz Show

Buzz! Quiz World is one of those games I didn’t expect to be reviewing in this release-packed month of November. In fact, I had totally forgotten it was coming out until it arrived at my home, sans buzzers, direct from Sony. Thankfully I had four buzzers for the game already, because about a year or two back, Sony and Amazon.com sent me the original Buzz! For the PS3, Buzz! Quiz TV to review via the Amazon Vine program.

I enjoyed the original Buzz! Buzz for what it was, but I can’t say it’s a game I pull off my shelf very often. I strongly doubt I would have paid for it on its own, seeing as I prefer solo gaming to a multiplayer experience. When I’m with friends, there are MANY things I’d rather be doing than playing video games, but in those rare occasions, both Buzz! and Singstar more that fill that need.

Buzz! Quiz TV had (and still has) a lot of DLC that you could get for it, but I only purchased the “horror movie” and “National Geographic Safari” packs. Still with the literally thousands of downloadable questions, one might wonder why a second Buzz! game for the PS3 was needed when big fans of the game could just keep buying the new packs. With that in mind, is Buzz! Quiz World worth forty dollars if you already have the original, or worth sixty if you need to buy the buzzers?

Let’s Review

1. Modes

First things, first. There is very little difference between either Buzz! for the PS3. Both have differences questions, both can use the DLC interchangeably, both focus more on online multiplayer than local multiplayer, both use the same buzzers, and both have the large problem that very few people, if any, are ever online, making it very hard to use a good portion of the modes or earn specific trophies. With this in mind, you may want to keep your wallet in your pocket if you already have the first game.

Now this doesn’t mean that both games are carbon copies. Buzz! Quiz World has added video and audio questions and can even pull them in for your original DLC packs, which was a fun surprise. For people playing alone, you now have a choice between two modes of play (Stop the Clock or Over the Edge), where the original game only gave you a single paltry mode with Stop the Clock.

For multiplayer, we now have nine modes to choose from. They are nearly identical to each other, with only a few things separating them. They are:

  • Standard Game: Six rounds where the players choose the categories but the game chooses the round styles
  • Round Select: You choose the rounds and the categories.
  • Crazy Rounds: You play only the “wacky” style rounds like “Pie Fight” and “Short Fuse”.
  • Serious Rounds: You play more traditional trivia rounds only.
  • 15 Minute Game:
  • You…play for 15 minutes

  • 45 Minute Game: Again, the name says it all and this is waaaay too long for anyone
  • Quiz Pack Game: You play only with DLC packs you purchased

  • Custom Game: You totally customize everything
  • My Buzz!: You play user created content.
  • Unfortunately with the last one, this is now multiplayer only, while in the original game, you could do My Buzz! quizzes in single player mode. Even more annoying, there are some things (and trophies) you can only access if you have a Playstation Eye camera. This is rather insipid and it feels like a cheap way to force people to buy a Playstation Eye. Sorry Sony, but this kind of chicanery makes me even less interested in buying one.

    Overall, Buzz! Quiz World offers more modes, options, and rounds of play than the original PS3 version, but it’s also a step back in one or two ways, especially with My Buzz! and with menu navigation, especially once you go online. What’s here is fun, and I’d recommend this over the original just for the visual and audio questions that have been added, but this is still really only for people that play games primarily in social situations.

    Modes Rating: Great

    2. Graphics

    Much like the original Buzz!, there’s not much to look at here. You have a stage, Buzz (the character), and up to four goofy cartoon characters. I have to admit, I strongly prefer the character designs in Buzz! Quiz TV, but the set design is better here. As well, instead of Buzz’s lame commentary that ends each game in the original, now you get a prize for winning, and a comedy scene that inevitably ends with Buzz getting injured, often in his genitals or rectal area. Considering how annoying Buzz is, I REALLY prefer this change.

    There isn’t a lot to the visuals here. It’s just a simple quiz game after all. It’s colourful and the graphics are fine when you’re playing a game now and then, but they do get old really fast after a few games in a row or the 45 minute challenge. Oy. Still, what’s here gets the job done even if it’s only a smidgen better than what you’ll see in the PS2 or PSP variants.

    Graphics Rating: Decent

    3. Sound

    This is another area where the game is only passable, but is good enough for what the game needs. You only have three real voices throughout the game: the main male voiced narrator that is there 98% of the time, the female narrator who is there for certain DLC content, and Buzz, who has entirely new lines of dialogue and thankfully far more than the original PS3 game. With that one, you’d get repeat lines in the same game. Here I played a dozen games in a row and never got the same wisecrack. Nice!

    Other than that, there’s not much here. Sure, you have a plethora of sound effects to choose from for your buzzer, but this is almost needless and you never end up hearing or even paying attention to your buzzer’s noise. There are some quasi-voice acting effects for your character which are just sound effects to mimic laughter or woe. The first game did this a lot better and there were actual voice clips for characters. What’s here will satisfy people new to Buzz!, but owners of the previous game will consider this a step backwards in amount of aural effects and their quality.

    Sound Rating: Decent

    4. Control and Gameplay

    This is pretty cut and dry here. Each player gets a buzzer with one big red button and four long but thin coloured buttons. For each question that the narrator reads, you are given four possible answers. Each answer is listed on a different coloured background and you press the corresponding colour on your buzzer to choose that answer. All buzzers are wireless and a USB receiver is placed in one of the PS3’s controller ports. The controllers work great and there is never a problem with your choice being read or any lag. Everything works amazingly well, but it’s a Sony product for a Sony system, so it’s not surprising that the interface is this good.

    There is only one small problem I can think of and I’ve tested this repeatedly so I know this isn’t just a one time or even a rarely occurring error. If two players hit their button at the exact same time, the computer will ALWAYS favour Player 1 (or Player 2 if it’s between 2 and 3, and so on). I noticed this would happen in multiplayer games regardless of who was Player 1 and so I tried a multiplayer game where I was two players. I would hit the buttons at the same exact time and yes, Player 1 would always beat Player 2, even if it showed the exact same time on the screen. Just to make sure it wasn’t because I’m right handed and that was favoured because of it, I switched the two and tried some more. Sure enough, even with my off-hand the computer favoured Player 1. To me, this is both a gameplay and a balance issue, and there’s no real way around it. Thankfully only in things like “The Final Countdown” will this be a factor, but considering that’s the most important round of the game, that’s actually a pretty big factor indeed.

    Because of this one issue, Buzz! Quiz World is a step or two below Buzz! Quiz TV which did NOT have this issue. It’s still a good game, but remember that the game is more than a little biased to whoever Player 1 will be.

    Control and Gameplay Rating: Good

    5. Replayability

    With thousands of questions and a lot of DLC, Buzz! Quiz World provides a nice amount of replay value. However, as of right now the “Playstation Store” option in the menu mode of this game leads to…nothing. Maybe this will change by the time this goes live, but I get a blue screen with a message that nothing is available currently, even though there is all the DLC from the first PS3 Buzz! game.

    Speaking of that, it’s great that the DLC is well, forwards compatible with the new game. Even better, the questions are different and we get some visual and audio questions as well. I didn’t notice anything being downloaded or installed either, which makes me wonder if it did this automatically or what.

    Finally, Buzz! is not really a game you can play repeatedly, either by yourself or with friends. It’s maybe good for two or three games in a row and then it’s time to put this away. Trivia is fun, but even with all the modes in this game, they’re all really just the same thing with a different facelift, so things start to run together quickly. There’s a reason trivia nights at your local pub are not every night or five-six hours long.

    In short, Buzz! is a game you can certainly play with friends and family in short bursts for a long period of time, but it’s not a game you’ll be devote hours to several days in a row like a lot of other games. There’s plenty of content to make this a regular weekend routine if you have a lot of trivia minded friends, and there’s even a trophy (silver) that you can get if you do this. Huzzah if you like trophies, I guess.

    Replayability Rating: Good

    6. Balance

    Aside from the favoritism I mentioned earlier, the game is pretty well balanced. Each round someone different chooses a category from a set of four. They are all randomly determined, so you might get four categories that are hard across the board for everyone and the next you might get only one that you know you can do well on, but that it’s also a strength with your friends. There actually is some strategy involved with the category you pick, but once you do, it’s primarily luck that you know the answer along with lightning quick reflexes.

    Trivia categories include “Film Flops,” “R&B,” “Phonetic Alphabet,” and so many more. Then you also have the user generated content in My Buzz!, but almost all of these suck across the board and I did a Japanese name translation quiz where I found more than one to list the incorrect answer as right. Ouch. You’ll have a lot of options and even if you play this game so much that you start memorizing answers, you’ll always be able to download more content and find some fun new questions to ply your mind again.

    Also, surprise of surprises, the game has a few questions regarding Sony’s distinguished competition such as “What country did Pokemon originate in?” That surprised me, and in a good way. Of course when that question came up my friends were like, “&^*&^(*%^%#$%!” because you know, it’s me and Pokemon.

    Pretty well done here with luck and knowledge determining how well you’ll do.

    Balance Rating: Good

    7. Originality

    The Xbox 360 has Scene It, and the Wii has…well, I’m sure there’s some trivia game on the Wii Ware. However if there’s one area Sony has reigned supreme this generation, it’s with Trivia (Trivia and Karaoke if you need a second). Neither of the other systems has a trivia game that compares to the depth, DLC, and fun that Buzz! provides. However, Buzz! has seen multiple incarnations, not just on the PS3, but on the PS2 and PSP as well. All of these games follow the same exact format with little to no real change between renditions or consoles. This is a bit disappointing, as I’d like to see a Buzz! try a few new things instead of just being 85-90% the same thing, but with new questions. They’ve gone a step in the right direction with the audio and visual clues, and DLC is something Scene It has majorly dropped the ball on. I’m actually surprised Scene it! is moving to the PS2 in December as much like Konami’s Karaoke Revolution pales to Singstar, I can’t see this doing very well when PS3 gamers already have Buzz!

    Still, with more than half a dozen variants of Buzz across three platforms, it means that something does need to be done to freshen the franchise up. What’s here is fun and certainly playable, but there is little to no innovation here and it’ll be interesting to see how this fares with so much of the game mirroring the first Buzz! for PS3. Will owners of the first just stick with that game and the DLC, or will they put out forty dollars for what is basically more questions and trophies?

    Originality Rating: Mediocre

    8. Addictiveness

    As I said before, Buzz is great fun when you’re playing with actual human beings there in your home. It’s noticeably less fun when playing across the net as you can’t banter with your opponents properly and it kind of feels like playing against a CPU. Of course, that’s if you can even FIND a person online to play against. It’s too bad Relentless Software geared this version of the game so heavily towards online play as it’s actually best when played with two to eight players under the same roof. Playing by yourself is cute for a bit, but it’s not really that exciting.

    Even if you have a group of people primed and ready for multiplayer trivia fun, Buzz! will only hold their interest for two or three games before they’ll want to move on to something else or notice you have DDR or that big Captain America and the Avengers in your home and want to play that instead.

    Buzz! Quiz World is a fun little game, but it’s best when played in short jaunts.

    Addictiveness Rating: Mediocre

    9. Appeal Factor

    Everyone loves trivia. Maybe not to the point where you’ll round up friends and try to win free beer at the local tavern, but everyone likes that feeling of knowing the answer to some obscure piece of knowledge needed to win a game or even solve a question puzzling those around them. Trivial Pursuit is one of the most successful board games of all time, bars clean up on trivia nights, and it’s a game anyone can play, even if they’re not very good at it. I mean, remember knowledge bowl in high school? Trivia was something you could even get out of school for some days (which was the one reason I agreed to be recruited in 11th grade as the team learned the next competition was going to involve folkloric deities. They got a ringer and I got out of classes and a free lunch. Win-win baby!)

    Buzz! Quiz World is like that. Although single player is a bit dull, I’ll be keeping this, along with the original PS3 Buzz! in my collection for when I have people over and they want to play video games instead of something else. It’s a game everyone can have fun with and no doubt they will, as long as you keep it to only a few rounds.

    Buzz! Quiz World may not be a game everyone will shill out the sixty dollars for (or forty if you already have the first game and its buzzers), but it IS a game everyone will enjoy to varying degrees, so as long as one of your friends with a PS3 has it, you’re set.

    Appeal Factor: Classic

    10. Miscellaneous

    There is one big problem with the game that I feel should have been fixed, especially as it’s not in the original PS3 Buzz!. It involves multiplayer. Let’s say you want to play online against random strangers. You then create a room and wait for people to join in. HOWEVER, once you create the room, you can’t cancel the room and back out if no one shows up after a few minutes…or hours. There is no way to get out of this unless you do a hard reset of the game by pressing the PS button and choose “Quit Game.” Quite honestly, this is asinine and the type of programming gaffe that NO ONE should be making these days, especially in a system exclusive three years into the console’s life. This was not a problem in the original Buzz! and such a programming error just compounds the fact Reckless Software spent too much time trying to focus the game towards online multiplayer but then made several mistakes in judgment and programming, making the game actually better played by multiple people in their home.

    This is a pretty big disappointment, and for this reason I’d recommend the first Buzz! game for online play, except for the fact people haven’t been in there for months. As such if you’re going to play this online, I suggest joining a site dedicated to this game so you can exchange PSN handles with a bunch of people and set up times to play.

    Basically Buzz! is a perfect example that online participation for a game is still pretty unpredictable. Perhaps after this game has been out for a few weeks, things will change.

    Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre

    The Scores
    Modes: Great
    Graphics: Decent
    Sound: Decent
    Control and Gameplay: Good
    Replayability: Good
    Balance: Good
    Originality: Mediocre
    Addictiveness: Mediocre
    Appeal Factor: Classic
    Miscellaneous: Mediocre
    FINAL SCORE: ENJOYABLE GAME!

    Short Attention Span Summary
    Buzz! Quiz World is a fine and fun follow up to Buzz! Quiz TV!, but it’s not without its setbacks. The original had smoother and better laid out online play, along with more amusing characters to play as and the ability to play My Buzz! games by yourself if you chose to, something that is lack in this new version. This new version of Buzz! offers video and audio questions which is a great addition, and there are also more modes to play in. The Direct interface with the PSN Store still has a few bugs to fix as, at the time of this writing, it doesn’t actually link to the BUZZ! DLC content, so this might annoy a few gamers. At the end of the day though, Buzz! Quiz World is certainly worth picking up if you don’t have the original and you are in need of a fun party game. If you DO have the original, you’ll have to ask yourself if you’re a big enough fan that you need forty dollars worth of new questions and a slight upgrade.

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