Friday, October 26, 2007

Buzz! The Party Quiz

Developer: Relentless Software
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: Oct. 30, 2007
Systems: PS2
ESRB Rating: E10+
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: You Don't Know Jack without the crude humor. Or much humor at all, in fact.

This review features guest commentary from my wife, Michelle.

0:01 This minute is spent opening the ridiculous shrink wrap. and plugging the specially designed controllers in. I like that the little USB hub thing has a velcro strap to secure the loose wires when done.

A Mick Jagger lookalike listens to his Hi-Fi when a bright light takes him away. The same thing happens to an afro-sporting disco dude, an Elvis impersonator, a lipstick-applying girl in a Corvette and a ridiculous looking blonde guy counting his money by the pool. What this has to do with a trivia quiz? I have no idea. Turns out the light was from a limo, and it's taking them to a red carpet gala event... Buzz! That was pointless.

"Hello, welcome to Buzz! Whatever you want to do is OK by me," says the sultry Vanna White lookalike who introduces the menu. Hubba hubba. The big red buttons on the controllers blink to get your attention. Cute, and unexpected.

0:06 We choose a standard difficulty short game to start. Both of us hit a button to choose which player slot we'll fill. Easy-peasy, and no shuffling of controllers/cords.

0:08 You get to choose a face, a costume and a buzzing sound effect through a simple interface. Michelle is laughing like an idiot over the buzz effects. I end up with an elephant roar, she choose a stadium air horn. "This is gonna get old real fast, though," she says ominously.

0:10 The host is named Buzz. How original. "Let's say hello to our trivia athletes. *applause* Enough... Let's go!" Point Picker is the first round. "A nice easy round." Rose explains things nice and slowly for the non-gamers out there. Pick a category and answer the question. Simple. First category: "The power of television."

0:11 "Oh, you don't have to buzz in to answer?" Michelle is kind of surprised. Nope, just hit the colored button corresponding to the multiple choices. So far we're both two for two -- questions about South Park and Carmen Electra. E-Z.

0:13 After round one I'm down 250 points because I didn't know Maroon 5 was from L.A. "Winner Stays On" is next. There's no discernible loading despite every single bit of text being spoken. Well done.

0:16 "Please accept this offering of derision," Buzz says as I hit the wrong button accidentally. Come on... I know that the picture of Kirsten Dunst is younger than the picture of Jamie Lee Curtis. Next up is "Fastest Finger." The animation on the host and characters is simple but effective. Very exaggerated.

0:20 "Take your time everyone. It's not like the game's a test of, um, speed or anything," Buzz says when we take too long. The humor falls a little flat, I've got to say.

0:21 Pie Fight? There's a mode called Pie Fight?!?! I almost do a spit take. "Only the fastest correct player gets to throw pies in this round." I love it!

0:23 I finally win a round! 1000 points for answering more questions and throwing more pies. Might be more interesting if there was more than one opponent to throw pies at...

0:24 In the "Mystery Challenge," we get to pick which horse of four will be fastest around a track. That's it. No trivia, no skill, no nothing. That was... pointless.

0:26 Globetrotter mode uses the interesting conceit of flying around the world and asking questions about wherever you end up. They're doing their best to spice up the act of answering general knowledge trivia. They're not doing a bad job, actually.

0:30 Put these words in the correct order to form NATO? Really? There's only one word that starts with each letter. Top Rank mode gets a little silly with this question.

0:32 Point Stealer mode would probably mean more if there with more people to steal points from. As it stands, it's just like every other mode. That's OK... I steal a lot of points from Michelle here. Mwahahaha!

0:34 Time for the final round... the Final Countdown mode. Our scores are converted to time and the first one to run out while thinking of answers loses. Let's go.

0:40 Wow... Final Countdown mode is STILL going. We have both answered practically every question right, and we alternate on who's fastest. Since the fastest answerer gets some time back we're both practically full on our meters. This could take a while.

0:43 Argh. The ever speeding clock finally catches up with me when I don 't know what a fletcher is. Michelle is the victor... I'll never live it down... I do get the "Losers Medal" though. And the "Slow Poke award." Um, whoo?

0:44 For her victory, Michelle wins a 1950's style computer that's "guaranteed not to become self aware." Then it kills Buzz. Heh. The first genuinely funny bit.

0:45 Hmmm... the PS3 seems to have died trying to reset the game. Weird.

0:50 After a quick restart and some monkeying around in the menu, we try a ten question "Quickfire Quiz."

0:53 I am fast but get two answers wrong. Michelle is slower but always right. Slow and steady DOES win the race!

0:54 We decide to try Quizmaster mode next. "I am... the quizmaster," Michelle says in her best Scottish brogue.

0:56 I need to hit start on the PS2 controller to start? That seems... odd.

0:58 Hmm... so Quizmaster mode has one player ask questions that other players have to answer with their buzzers. That was unexpected. I ask Michelle how many elephants I'm thinking of. She says 17, but the answer is 12. I WIN! Seriously, this seems like a useful mode for throwing parties, but it doesn't really work with two people

Oh man... we try a custom game with just the pie fight. Michelle answers all three questions faster, but messes up in the timing when trying to throw the pies. I win by not answering a single question. "I can't believe I hit myself with a pie... TWICE!" Michelle mourns.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yeah.
Why? Seems a decent way to waste time with friends, but it lacks that spark of wackiness that makes a truly great party game.

This review based on a retail copy provided by Sony.

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