What do you get when you combine a sarcastic host, saucy hostess, unique buzzers, 5000+ questions, and stir in 4 players to boot? Buzz! The Mega Quiz, of course. Arguably one of the coolest concepts to come to the PlayStation 2 in quite a while, Buzz! offers a very unique and entertaining experience for a relatively low price, and even includes its own hardware.
For the low retail price of USD 39.99, players get Buzz! The Mega Quiz and a universal serial bus hub, which will connect the 4 included buzzers to your console. At some point, presumably, extra buzzers should be available, as the game does state that it supports play for up to 8 players.
Buzz! The Mega Quiz plays like a slew of different game shows throughout the last 2 decades or so. Each player will take control of a highly unique character avatar for the game, and will use their buzzers to elect to answer and choose their answers from the list. The avatars run a wild gamut from cowboys and mimes to fat opera ladies and superheroes. Each avatar also has a few different costumes, giving players lots of options for how to portray their quizzical genius to their fellow players. Gamers also get to choose their buzz in noise, ranging from belches and yodels to bullhorns and quacks.
Depending on whether you are playing alone or with friends determines exactly how Buzz! is experienced. In fact, when you plump for the single player after having played many rounds of the multiplayer mode, you may be surprised at what you find - it’s that different. Lets start with the basics, which stay the same regardless of game type. Some rounds will require you to press the red “buzz in “ button before answering, while other will only require that you press the colored button that corresponds to your answer.
Upon choosing a game type, you are given the option of choosing a contestant or quick starting and skipping ahead. After making this choice, players get to choose the difficulty of the game (easy, standard, hard) and the length of the game as well (short, standard, long). With these choices made, the game progresses according to whether you chose single or multiplayer.
Multiplayer, which is the stronger game type, thrusts 2-8 players into a competition to gain as many points as they can before the last round of the game. Play generally starts with the Point Picker round, during which each player gets to choose a category to answer multiple questions about. Each category spawns about 3 questions. Categories include general knowledge, animals, bizarre, TV and movies, music, and sports, among others.
The next round is Fastest Finger. In this round, players earn more points for answer before the other contestants. The fastest correct answer earns the most points, with each subsequent answer still offering points, although at only a fraction of what the fastest player received. While speed is a must in this round, accuracy is also a focus, as a wrong answer awards no points.
Next on the docket is Pie Fight, which allows players the opportunity to pie their opponents (or themselves!) for each right answer they get. Speed is still a factor here, as only the fastest correct answer gets to throw a pie. Once the pie thrower is chosen, a target begins a rotation on each contestant’s portrait. The pie is launched when the thrower activates his buzzer. Because of the nature of this method, it is possible to pie yourself, and becomes more likely as contestants are removed from the round, as there are less targets and the targeting reticule moves faster. The each contestant gets a number of lives depending on the number of players, and the surviving player gets a large point payout at the end of the round.
One event in particular that really requires a good amount of explanation is Point Stealer. In this particular round, the fastest correct answer allows the answer contestant to steal points from another player. No points are awarded in this round; instead, points that were awarded in other rounds are merely distributed depending on how people answer. This can make for some very competitive play, especially since it comes right before the Final Round. This makes for some great gameplay, and can have a huge effect on the standings of the game.
For the Final Round, all players’ points are converted to a “time bar.” Depending on the number of points you received throughout the game, your time bar could be very long, or pathetically short. During the round, each player’s time goes down after a question is asked until they give their answer. The first person to get a correct answer gets extra time, correct answers after this simply have their time stopped, and anyone who answers incorrectly loses time. This is another last man standing round, and play continues until only one contestant is left standing. Throughout the round, our good friend and host Buzz periodically dials up the speed to ensure that someone gets to watch their quiz career circle the bowl. The winner of the round wins the game.
After a multiplayer game, the lovely assistant Rose hands out prizes and awards. Awards are given for most correct answers, fastest average answer speed, and a dummy prize for the player who got the most answers wrong.
Single player is a completely different beast from its multiplayer brethren. There are only 2 rounds, and the method of play is reversed. The first round, Time Builder, gives players 10 separate questions to answer. Each correct answer awards the player time on the clock for the next round, depending on how quickly they answered. After all 10 questions are answered, players move on to the Hotseat round. During this round, players continue answering questions until their time runs out.
Scoring is unique in this round, as each consecutive right answer will award more points for the next right answer, up to a maximum of 2500 points for five correct answers in a row. Here is the catch: players must bank their points (by pushing the buzz button at any time) for them to be worth anything, and a wrong answer means all unbanked points are lost. At the end of the round, your score is compared to your list of high scores, so you can gauge how well you performed.
With the general principles of the game thoroughly discussed, I feel it necessary to call some attention to the questions themselves. While all of the questions are multiple choice, there is still quite a bit of difficulty in many of the quizzes. Questions are not always straightforward, either. There are music questions that require the players to identify songs without the lyrics. There are also picture questions in a few different forms.
For instance, one quandary may ask which weighs more, and show the players a picture of a penny and a contact lens. The players must then choose the correct answer. Picture questions also ask players to identify the object, presenting them with a zoomed in or out of focus picture that gets progressively better. These different types of questions keep Buzz! from becoming stale. On top of this, the game offers over 5000 questions, and if you play with a memory card, it will record the most current questions used to avoid having them come up again.
Buzz! The Mega Quiz offers something that has been quite lacking on the PS2, especially as of late. This is one of the few genuine party games out there for the system. Supporting up to 8 players for a unique and entertaining experience is almost unheard of on the PS2, and most other systems to boot. The game is not without its problems, however. For instance, the only way to pause a game is to push all four answer buttons simultaneously, a feat that is difficult to accomplish, and generally results in a wrong answer being given.
The buzzers do feel a bit cheap, and are mostly plastic, although this helps the product to be offered at the surprising price of USD 39.99 and makes the buzzers lighter for extended play periods. Finally, the single player version of the game is pretty weak, and will probably only serve a purpose to a hard-core trivia buff or for practice for multiplayer. Having said that, the multiplayer on Buzz! is amazing; the game really generates a party atmosphere, and even those who are just watching will often be involved, grabbing for controllers as soon as a game ends.
Overall, Buzz! does a wonderful job of reaching an untapped market for Sony, one that they had more or less previously ignored. If you are looking for a great deal on a game this holiday season, Buzz! has you covered. Whether you get it for your friends, your family, or your frat house, this game will have the laughs rolling and your mind reeling.
-The Final Word-
If you and your friends are looking for great multiplayer games, this one should be at the top of your list. Not only is the multiplayer astounding, the game itself is educational and could very well broaden your knowledge base. Need a game to play with the kids, or the grandfolks? Look no further. This game suits all audiences.