Review: Buzz Quiz World (Sony PSP)

Buzz Quiz World
Genre: Quiz Show
Developer: Curve Game Studios
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: 12/17/09


Buzz is an interesting, if not exactly super-popular, franchise that essentially seems like Sony’s take on You Don’t Know Jack, complete with smart-alec host, multiple-choice questions, and single and multiplayer quiz game goodness. While the You Don’t Know Jack series had something of a solid run on the PC, the console market hasn’t exactly been clamoring for quiz games. This may or may not be because console market doesn’t take much interest in quiz-show products, despite the large amount of casual gamers running around, or it could be because most console quiz games have been watered down versions of television game shows. Ever try playing the SNES version of Jeopardy? Woof. Buzz, as a series, is a pretty good effort at changing people’s minds, thanks to its charming personality and wide variety of question packs on the consoles, but bringing that experience (complete with online play and huge colored buzzers) to the handheld market is a whole different animal, fraught with different problems. Buzz Quiz World, as a handheld quiz game, actually manages to circumvent most of the obvious problems, as it’s a fun and interesting game alone or with friends, but is it a must-have for non-trivia buffs? Let’s take a look.

Buzz Quiz World offers a decent amount of content for solo play, but its major focus is on multiplayer, so as you’d expect, it does the latter a good bit better than the former. The single player modes allow you to take on various challenges to unlock additional characters, which mostly amount to going through a long series of quiz rounds of various sorts before taking on a quiz to unlock the character offered. You can also play around with other quiz packs if you want, or go online with MyBUZZ! and take on user created questions. Multiplayer offers the option for up to six players to go against one another to earn points, either with one or multiple PSP’s, where the players can either take turns choosing the round types or where one player can act as Buzz himself and run the whole show. You can also go online with Wifi and play against other players in various quiz games. You’re offered different quiz show “mix” options in several of the multiplayer modes, depending on what sort of quiz options you want available, depending on if you want to pick your own rounds, if you want more serious or weird round types, and so on. You can also look over the various trophies you can earn through play, modify your various profiles, or customize the various game options as you see fit. There’s plenty of variety to the play options available, though you’ll get the most variety and fun from multiplayer, so if you lack online options or friends, you might get less from this than other players.

Buzz Quiz World looks cute, though it lacks a bit of the visual flair of its console counterparts. Buzz himself is as lively and animated as you’d expect, complete with his goofy muppet head and silly gestures, and the menus and quiz show displays are bright and impart the game show feeling one would expect. The game also makes use of various videos and images of real world things, which also look great on the PSP screen and add depth to the whole quiz show dynamic. On the other hand, the character avatars aren’t animated in this game, so your chosen character is instead represented by a still image of whatever you’ve chosen to play as, which loses some of the character of the console games as a result. Aurally, the game is as sharp as it is visually, though it also makes a few missteps here and there. Buzz, once again, is boisterous and energetic, and he’s often hilarious with his verbal barbs, between the amusing comments and his razor sharp delivery. The background tunes are spot-on game show material and are fun to listen to, and the various sound effects are often appropriate to the moment and lively. While the videos displayed often match their source material, however, many of the songs used for audio questions simply sound like weak covers, and in some cases aren’t even meaningful parts of the songs in the first place. Further, the game makes it a point to ask you if your name is in a series of names when you set up your avatar… but the game never bothers to actually SAY that name, making you wonder what the point of making you choose from a list even was.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Buzz franchise, well, it works like this: you’re asked a question about something or other, and presented four possible answers. You press one of the four face buttons to choose an answer, a correct answer will earn you points, and an incorrect answer will earn you mockery and scorn… and possibly lose you points, depending on the mode of play. Buzz Quiz World mostly follows those same rules, whether in single player or multiplayer modes, so it’s simple enough that pretty much anyone can get the gist down instantly. The multiplayer modes do nothing of note to deviate from this, with the exception of the quiz host mode that allows one player to host a game. In this case, the player pretending to be Buzz is then given the option to add or deduct points as needed and asks the questions to the players, effectively removing the need for the other players to do anything other than answer the questions, which is cute. The game makes use of pictures, film clips and audio tracks for some questions, and while these questions aren’t set up any differently from the normal questions, they help to provide some variety to the experience, which keeps things fresh as you play.

The other thing that keeps the game feeling fresh is the variety of quiz modes, of which there are a ton. The obvious “answer questions for points” mode, Point Builder, is in the game, of course, but where’s the fun on playing a quiz show if you’re not going to play the goofy question modes, right? Buzz Quiz World understands that, and includes a whole mess of weird and wacky modes to choose from. Players who are looking to risk some points for their gains can play with Double or Nothing, where you can risk your points won for huge rewards, or High Stakes, where you bet how many points you want to win/lose based on the question topic, among others. Looking to cheese off your friends? Then maybe you’ll like Point Stealer, which lets you steal points when you earn right answers, or Short Fuse, which lets you play Hot Potato with a bomb to ruin your opponent’s day. There are lots of other modes, like Virus, which eats away at points until you make an answer to build tension, Snapshot, which lets you reveal a photo and take guesses at the question relating it for bonus points, Quickfire, which gives you questions in rapid succession and earns points for fast answers, and many others. The variety of categories to pick from when playing alone or with friends is astronomical, and is easily Buzz Quiz World’s strongest suit.

As noted, the single player modes are somewhat basic, though there’s enough to entertain you if you have an internet connection available. Challenge mode allows you to play through a series of challenges to unlock four locked character avatars, with each challenge offering various quiz round types to play through. You can also play around with other downloaded quiz packs from different Buzz games or jump online and play some MyBUZZ! user-created quizzes, of which, at present, there are a whole lot available to play around with. Multiplayer is where it’s at for variety, however, as you can get up to six local players or four online players together and do some quizzing in a bunch of different ways. You can pass your PSP around to friends if no one has a PSP but you or download the game to their console if they all have the system and compete against one another, or one of you can run a quiz show for the others to take part in if you’re feeling like Alex Trebec. Being able to play against friends online is also a nice addition to the game, and while this is more likely a game you’ll play with local friends, if you want some quiz show competition and no one’s around, this isn’t a bad way to get your quiz on with someone anytime.

Buzz Quiz World is a solid enough handheld quiz game overall, but it lacks in a few key areas. The game purports to have over six thousand questions available, but it might have the same video assigned to multiple questions, meaning that you could possibly see the same Wham! video a few times in the first few hours of play. Obviously, video is going to occupy more space in the game than a lot of the other components, so making judicious use of the videos supplied isn’t a bad idea, but seeing the same video two or three times makes the game feel repetitive early on, which isn’t a good thing. The game also lacks certain features, like the ability to customize a name for your avatar in the game or the ability to turn off video and audio questions in situations that make them annoying (like when I’m at work, for instance) that make the game less enjoyable than it should be. The fact that you can’t access MyBUZZ! quizzes unless you’re online is also frustrating, as they’re essentially the only thing keeping the single player game afloat. Allowing the player to download a set amount of user-created quizzes to carry around, similar to how something like LittleBigPlanet works, would allow the player to grab some quizzes, carry them around, then replace them when they get boring to keep solo play enjoyable. Instead, you can only play these quizzes when you’re able to go online, meaning that long car rides or areas without wireless access leave you with only the default questions available, which can become repetitive after a while, making the single player component feel like an afterthought.

Buzz Quiz World is a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong. Quiz show games are generally amusing if they have enough questions and enough personality to keep the experience going for a bit, and this game definitely has enough of both to be worth checking out. There are plenty of modes and rounds to play around with, the game looks vibrant and fun and sounds upbeat and cheery, and the gameplay is simple enough for anyone to pick it up with no trouble. There are a large amount of modes for multiple players to have fun with and enough single player modes to fool around with for a while, and the game has a solid amount of personality to it that keeps the game fun, online or off. The game lacks the visual polish of its console counterpart, however, and some odd quirks hurt its long-term play value. You can’t download MyBUZZ! quizzes to the console, you can’t turn off the audio and video questions at times when they would be inopportune to deal with, you can’t customize your avatar’s name, and the videos repeat often enough that you’ll notice it early on in your play of the game. For fans of the quiz show genre who want some quizzing on the go or want to play with friends but lack a console to play the games on, Buzz Quiz World is a good investment, as it offers plenty of fun for fans, but anyone looking for a little more solo replay value or some more polish to the game might come away a little disappointed.

The Scores:
Game Modes: GREAT
Graphics: GOOD
Sound: GOOD
Control/Gameplay: GREAT
Replayability: ABOVE AVERAGE
Balance: GOOD
Originality: POOR
Addictiveness: ABOVE AVERAGE
Appeal: ABOVE AVERAGE
Miscellaneous: MEDIOCRE

FINAL SCORE: ENJOYABLE GAME.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Buzz Quiz World is a fun and entertaining quiz game that fans of the genre should love, as it offers up a good amount of options for solo or multiple players in a pleasant package, though its not without its flaws. The game looks and sounds nice and is easy enough to play that anyone should be able to jump right in within seconds without an issue. There are plenty of multiplayer modes, both online and off, to allow you to play with friends or strangers when you’re looking for some competition, and there are an acceptable amount of single player modes available to keep the game interesting for a while, and the game is charming enough to make you come back to it for a little while on top of that. However, the game is lacking some polish, like the inability to change your name or the lack of animated character avatars, that make the game feel less interesting than its console counterparts. Further, thanks to some odd issues like the inability to download MyBUZZ! quizzes to the console for play anytime, the inability to disable audio and video quizzes when they would be undesirable, and the fact that video questions repeat frequently enough to be noticeable before the repeated questions might be, the game simply doesn’t feel polished enough to be a must-have for anyone but the quiz show fan. Buzz Quiz World is a fun game for people who love quiz shows, and it offers some solid fun alone or with friends, but it doesn’t make a compelling argument to own it over the console versions, and it’s simply not polished enough for anyone but a fan of the genre to give it a second look.

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