The BUZZ! series has been a phenomenal success for SONY. With several outings on PlayStation2, and more recently a PLAYSTATION3 release, it’s now the turn of the PlayStation Portable to receive SONY’s Game Show software.
Originally arriving at a time when having a peripheral solely for use in a single game was still considered a hindrance rather than a Unique-Selling Point – a change in market trends that, quite obviously, we have Wii to thank for – BUZZ! The Music Quiz followed the line laid by the SingStar series, and thanks to a creative advertising campaign – including a reasonable price-tag for the package including the Buzzer Controller – the title, released in late 2005, found itself being prime entertainment for the family throughout the following Christmas season; as many subsequent releases have since.
The formula here, however, has changed quite substantially. While much of the game precedes in the same Quiz Show-inspired manner that regulars players will be familiar with, the lack of a Buzzer Controller may seem to make the title rather redundant. However, as with the recent Guitar Hero: On Tour, Relentless Software have obviously endeavoured to recreate the BUZZ! atmosphere without the aid of a direct interface with which the casual user can easily identify as part of the milieu. For the most part, the simple colour-coded Buzzer Controller Buttons are replaced with the PlayStation Portable’s Face Buttons, an obvious realignment which, in actual play, has little bearing on the game itself.
The Single-Player options have received a major overhaul, yet are still limited to just one gameplay mode. In Solo Quiz Challenge, the player is faced with a Map detailing different Challenges. Through playing an Challenge, should the player answer enough questions correctly, rewards of Bronze, Silver or Gold Medals are be available, and Medals must be earned in Events to progress across the Map. Solo Quiz Challenge is an entertaining distraction in itself, but brief – featuring only fifteen Challenges – as is the shortcoming of the genre. It’s the Multi-Player Modes in which BUZZ! Master Quiz shines.
With three modes available, each tailored for either the system’s fans, or the friends and relatives of those equipped with the console, BUZZ! Master Quiz provides more than most Quiz-based titles before its three-thousand question remit has been thrown into the mix. Indeed, titles such as the recent NintendoDS Telly Addicts release simply don’t equate with the high production values on display here. Pass Around is most likely to be the dominant choice for play, and is well-balanced for such a responsibility. The gameplay mode asks players to pass the PlayStation Portable console amongst themselves whenever the player in command changes. The player in command will answer questions, select the next person to play or select an area of a picture on which the next player has to answer a question, depending on which Round is currently being played. Given adequate time for play as well as a more than competently designed infrastructure for the idea of having to pass the system across a room – or train carriage, for that matter – Pass Around has been benefit of some exemplary user-interface decisions.
Quiz Host Mode sees one player acting as the Host, and selecting questions for the other players to answer. No doubt set to ignite many an argument, the Host is entirely responsible for the scoring system, which questions are asked and deciding who answered correctly, or quickest. Game Sharing allows one player with the software to play with up to three other PlayStation Portable owners without the Universal Media Disc. With basic options concerning the length of the game and which question categories may be included, the Game Sharing option most closely relates the home console variations of BUZZ!.
The aesthetic is very well recreated on the PlayStation Portable, and anyone having played any of the PlayStation2 releases will immediately recognise the title. Much of it has been stripped-down, to the extent where there’s no studio sequences included, however the instantly recognisable player avatars are included, as well as, of course, the sharp-witted Jason Donovan vehicle, Buzz himself.
BUZZ! Master Quiz may already have many gamers dismissing the title, but BUZZ! Master Quiz’s target audience lies elsewhere at any rate. With an appropriately reduced RRP signifying a comparable price to a similar offering on NintendoDS, the title is quite obviously a development to encroach on Nintendo’s much vaulted casual market – those who may not have even considered buying a PlayStation Portable system previously, and those who don’t own one themselves yet have a partner/sibling/offspring that does. Tailored inexplicably well for it’s handheld outing, BUZZ! Master Quiz a very different BUZZ!, yet at heart, a BUZZ! game it still remains.