Push The Red Button
Certain things are much more popular in Europe than in the US. Crumpets. Soccer. David Hasslehoff. It shows the differing tastes of the world and, hopefully, reminds the USA that we're not the “end all, be all” of entertainment... then again, they like Jerry Lewis too.
Enter Buzz: The Mega Quiz, the latest entry in the European series of quiz games. Though this series has stratospheric popularity across the pond, this game is the first in the series to reach our shores. So how does it hold up? Well, much better than the Spice Girls did.
The setup for Buzz is that you are a contestant on a British game show hosted by a character who constantly reminds me of Guy Smiley. In a startling bit of originality, the host's name is... Buzz. Guess Donald Trump isn't the only guy who names things after himself. Buzz takes you through numerous categories that range from common trivia to weird facts and figures.
The questions truly are Buzz's strength. According to the game, there are over 5000 questions included in the game. That's enormously high and you really shouldn't see many repeats, so my friends that try and memorize all the questions in the original Trivial Pursuit board games will have their work cut out for them.
As with any party game, the duration can be an issue. Buzz lets you choose from Short, Normal, or Long game, though the normal game is actually quite long, so don't be surprised if some of your friends start complaining they're getting bored, especially if they're losing by a wide margin.
The questions cross a number of categories and are answered slightly differently depending on the round. Sometimes you're competing against your friends, sometimes against the clock, and sometimes against the host himself. Sometimes you steal points from other contestants, and sometimes you throw pies at them, though you can miss and pie yourself. It doesn't always make sense, but it does end up being quite fun.
Although there is a single-player mode, playing a trivia party game by yourself is just sad. Frankly, if you don't have friends to play this with, you'll get as much satisfaction and feel as superior as watching Jeopardy and screaming the answers at the morons on TV.
For multiplayer, Buzz comes included with a set of four buzzers that connect to the PS2's USB port. The game can actually be played with 8 players if you have another set of buzzers. The buzzers themselves include a giant red button that lights up and four colored selection buttons below it. Oddly, you cannot use a standard controller to play the game and the large red "Buzz" button is hardly used at all.
The graphics get the job done, but don't really add that much to the game, besides the Vanna White-like character, who has enormous virtual cleaveage. the graphics don't do much. Most of the time, you'll find yourself skipping some of the animated sequences.
For all the pomp and presentation put into Buzz, however, I kept thinking back to You Don't Know Jack, how it creates the same know-it-all, tongue-in-cheek attitude with just a simple text interface and a few bells and whistles. When the host in Buzz isn't asking questions, he's insulting you. It doesn't matter whether you're winning or losing. He mocks your intelligence, reaction times, and sometimes, even your face. Comments get a bit repetitious, even on the first play-through, and you will have your pride hurt by this game. But you're a wuss if they send you home crying.
Less forgivable is how Buzz ends the game. Before the final round, you are given points for answering questions correctly. Then rather randomly, the end game converts all your points into a time limit based on your ordinal ranking, not how many points you have. So, if I'm in first place, I'd still get same time limit whether I had 100 points or just twice as many points as the person in second. While this makes the end game more exciting for the players that haven't been doing well, the person in the lead will feel ripped off.
All in all, Buzz: The Mega Quiz is a good all-in-one package for any trivia fan who owns a PS2. The included buzzers make it easy to play with four people, and the variety and sheer quantity of questions add to the replayability of the game. Though some of the round choices are odd and the commentary could use a bit more humor, the core trivia game here is a great choice for the casual game player looking for a trivia party game.