Video Game Rentals Delivered


David Yun (PSN Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (PSN Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2009-04-18 22:33:27

BUZZ! Quiz TV - Rank A

Developer: Relentless Software
Publisher: SCEA
Date: 9/23/08

This is the series' debut on the PlayStation 3, as well as my first contact with a BUZZ! game. It's easy to not expect much from a trivia game show contest, but BUZZ! is extremely polished, and more importantly, a lot of fun.

The game is superbly simple. It revolves around multiple choice questions, each with four possible answers. The contestants submit their response by pressing the corresponding button on the buzzer peripheral. Each match is broken up into a series of rounds, which serve to entertainingly mix up the action. The first is Point Builder, a low pressure opening round where all that is required are correct answers within a generous time frame. The pace then picks up with Pass The Bomb, a hot potato scenario requiring correct answers to relinquish a point-reducing bomb. The lack of a visible timer and the psychological anticipation of the imminent explosion lead to a fun panicked fervor. Fastest Finger rewards quicker correct answers, and Pie Fight allows the first correct respondent to choose which opponent gets a pie to the face. This can put the leading player at a distinct disadvantage, as he or she will likely be the target of the other players. The politicking continues in Point Stealer, which should need no explanation. High Stakes is essentially "Final Jeopardy", wherein the players wager points based on their confidence in the given topic. Lastly, Final Countdown places each player on a podium that sinks as time passes, the starting height of which is determined by their amassed point totals. The player with the first correct answer gets lifted higher, while incorrect players get dropped. The last player not to get dumped into the abyss below the stage is the ultimate winner. The pragmatic offshoot of all this, aside from variety, is that the leader position can rapidly change hands, with dramatic swings in scores. Each player remains in the running for the duration, maintaining the fun factor for each participant.

BUZZ! features 5,000 questions, so it should take quite a lot of playing before familiarity sets in. They break down into a nicely wide array of categories. Some have a tendency to be gender aligned, like Lifestyle or Sports. They all have subcategories as well, so teenyboppers can dominate recent music while more weathered individuals might fare better at oldies. The diversity of subject matter ensures that most everyone will feel accommodated and viable at some point. The player in last place is charged with selecting the category to encourage stiff competition. The option to play within only a specific category or categories is available, in case your crew of sports nuts wants to play for bragging rights, for example. Additional question packs are also available for purchase as downloadable content, and users can also submit their own sets to share online. If you'd like to test your knowledge about Chuck Norris, this is where to look.

BUZZ!'s presentation is both refined and silly. The competition takes place on a stage that would suit a prime time quiz show. A large bank of screens occasionally hosts video questions, and sound clips play a role as well. The avatars for the contestants run the gamut from a cheerleader, Napoleon, a mime, a cavewoman, an Emperor Zurg knockoff, and so forth. EyeToy support allows owners of the peripheral to slice celebratory images of the players into the game. The rantings of the host can occasionally become repetitive, but the game's overall personality is simultaneously glossy slick and genuinely amusing.

BUZZ! comes packaged with four buzzers. They each require two AA batteries which are not included, so be sure to pick up a jumbo pack. The buzzers are conveniently wireless, and communicate their inputs to a receiver dongle that plugs into a USB port. The receiver is roughly the same size and shape as a flash drive, so unless it's left plugged in, you'll want to take care not to lose it. If you own the older wired buzzers from the PlayStation 2 releases, those are still compatible. BUZZ! can support up to eight players for some modes, so this is a considerate accommodation. The game could have controlled with the standard DualShocks, but the buzzers really do add to the atmosphere, along with an easily graspable conceptual design that ensures quick and responsive inputs.

BUZZ! also supports online play, but with only one person per console. I acknowledge that online play is a necessity in this day and age, but even if it afforded multiple players per console, it wouldn't stand up to the friendly competition of a living room full of face to face people. In addition, forums are full of speculation that slow but accurate online players MUST be cheating by way of Google. Likewise, playing by yourself is a boring waste. BUZZ comes to life as a party game.

I really didn't expect much from BUZZ! Quiz TV, and was pleasantly surprised by how engaging it can be. Considering the four bundled buzzers, it's also reasonably priced. BUZZ might be the most accessible and mainstream videogame ever brought to market. It could make for a stellar dorm room drinking game, and still be friendly for family functions. Your aunt who would never consider picking up a Rock Band instrument could easily be enticed into grabbing a buzzer. All PlayStation 3 owners who aren't basement dwelling social recluses ought to consider purchasing this product.

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