Trivia games are about the simplest proposition in all of gaming Compile a huge number of random questions, present them in an even remotely interesting format, and you more than likely will have yourself at least a modestly successful game. We’ve seen the Buzz series on the big boy platforms before, and Buzz! Quiz World is the second title in the series to come to the PSP, a platform that seems exceptionally well-suited to short bursts of random trivia. What better way to pass a few minutes on a bus or in the waiting room than seeing what random factoids might be stored in the far, cowebby recesses of your brain, right? Unfortunately, Buzz! QW makes all kinds of bad decisions and manages to turn something as simple as answering questions into an irritating chore.
Like most of it’s trivia predecessors, Buzz! QW places you as the contestant in a game show. Getting set up is easy: simply pick your name, choose your avatar, and jump right in. Oddly, Buzz! QW provides a huge number of pre-set names that you can choose, but does nothing with them in the course of the game. I would think that having pre-selected names would somehow incorporate them into the voice work (i.e. ‘Congratulations on that correct answer Chris!”), but that’s not the case.
Buzz! QW offers a few different options in both single player and multiplayer. Single player ‘Challenges’ allow you to unlock characters by competing in a series of progressive matches until you reach enough points to unlock the new avatars. ‘Quiz Packs’ allow you to download and answer a new series of questions, and ‘MyBuzz’ connects you to the servers and allows you to play a huge number of user-created questions. Multiplayer allows you to play against other people either locally or online, although in the half-dozen times I tried to connect, I never found anyone else playing.
The entire game is presented as a gameshow. There are a a bunch of different gameplay modes, such as High Stakes (you are given the category and you bet points based on how comfortable you are with it), Quickfire (you are awarded more points the quicker you answer), Point Builder (questions give an increasing amount of points the more you get correct), and a few others. However, they all basically boil down to you doing the exact same thing over and over and over again. You are asked a question and given a choice of 4 multiple choice answers. Pick one and move on to the next question…that’s it. It occasionally mixes things up by adding a picture, sound clip, or movie clip and asking a question about it, but that’s about all the variety you can expect here. Frankly, it’s all about as entertaining and inspired as the Delta in-flight trivia game I played on my last flight to DC.
Not content with providing lackluster game modes, there is also a startling lack of questions available in the game. I saw the same question 3 times within the first hour of playing, and was astounded at how often questions were repeated. There were also a lot of “WTF?”-type questions. A couple examples:
- A video clip shows a guy riding a motorcycle with a monkey on the back. The following question asks, “What type of animal was shown here?” with the choices of a) kangaroo, b) horse, c) badger, d) monkey
- A still image of Slash from Guns N’ Roses (holding his guitar, no less) is accompanied by the question, “What instrument is this famous musician known for?” The answers were a) guitar (duh), b) drums, c) piano, d) vocals.
- “Which of these teams comes first in alphabetical order?” with a) Dallas Cowboys, b) Denver Broncos, c) Jacksonville Jaguars, d) New York Giants. I kid you not, that was an actual question in the ‘Sports’ category.
Strangely, the questions ran the gamut from complete non-head-scratchers like these, to very specific questions about 70’s TV shows (“On which episode of Perry Mason did he solve X case?”) or obscure motorcycle racing trivia (“Which racer won this race in 1997”, after showing a short clip of a race). I’ve got a lot of random crap stored in my brain, but the questions in Buzz! QW always felt either far too easy or far too difficult.
I can only guess is that the developers of Buzz! QW intend it to be a framework that will develop a large amount of community generated content. You can download Quiz Packs (for a fee, of course), and you also have access to a large number of user generated questions. The user generated content was all very specific (as should be expected, since people tend to create questions based on things they know about), and offered up categories like “Twilight Trivia”, “NY Jets 2004”, or “1987 in New Wave”. Sifting through a hundred categories I had zero interest in to find the single 10-question pack that actually piqued my interest was far more trouble than it was worth. With (I assume) no method of proofing the user content, there were a large number of misspellings in the user created packs as well.
The actual presentation is, frankly, pretty damn boring. You’re treated to the game show theme throughout, but there is never even an attempt at anything graphically interesting. Not only is it boring, but you get to be introduced to one of the single most annoying characters I’ve ever encountered in all my years of gaming, Buzz the Gameshow Host. Buzz is your guide throughout the show, and I can pretty well guarantee you’ll want to strangle him in approximately 2.3 seconds. Unlike the funny hosts in trivia games like You Don’t Know Jack, Buzz’s constant grating voice simply serves as a neverending irritation. No matter what you do in the game, you will have to listen to Buzz forever spouting annoying catchphrases. I think these were supposed to be amusing, but I didn’t hear a single one that even remotely provided the tiniest chuckle. You’ll hear these stupid quips after you a right answer, after a wrong answer, when you place bets, when you choose a new menu item, when you select a character – basically every action you take in the game is accompanied by a lame sound clip from Buzz. Even worse, there’s not a huge variety of these ‘clever’ sound bites, so you will be hearing the same ones over…and over…and over…and over again. To be completely honest, Buzz is so annoying that it makes this game damn near unplayable
Maybe in a few months with enough user-generated and downloadable content, Buzz! QW might be worth looking at. As is, however, it is nothing more than a completely lackluster, dull, and boring trivia game. You will see everything the game has to offer within the first hour of play, and the combination of repetitive questions, minimal presentation, and uber-annoying host will ensure that you don’t make many trips back to this game show.