Buzz! Quiz TV Review

Buzz! has been a big earner on the PlayStation 2 with fourteen different versions of the game covering sports, movies, music, school subjects, and a wide variety of general knowledge.  Developer Relentless Software has done a fantastic job keeping the game up to date, fun, and relevant, giving players the chance to square off against each other for points and prestige.  If you refer back to my review of Buzz! The Mega Quiz, you’ll note that my primary complaints were long load times, unskippable intro sections, jaggy graphics, and diminished returns once you exhaust the question pool.  When I saw the graphic for a Buzz! title on the PlayStation 3 at this years E3 I had high hopes that Relentless could fix all of my concerns in one fell swoop.  As the first title on the new platform, the game has the potential of being similar to Rock Band, serving as the content delivery engine for all new Buzz! fun.  Time to meet up with our floppy-headed host of Buzz! Quiz TV and see what’s new.

Obviously, the first thing Relentless had to update for Buzz! to be a hit on the PlayStation 3 was the graphic engine.  They had to overhaul all of the characters and sets without changing the look of the previous titles too much.  To that end, they’ve accomplished their mission.  The characters retain their plastic comic look, complete with exaggerated animations and goofy costumes.  The cast of characters range from a 70s disco guy with a fro, a cheerleader, and a sad-faced mime to a lucha libre wrestler, a vampire, and a pocket protector-wearing geek. Each character is more ridiculous than the last, and all of them are equally funny. 

The sets in Buzz! Quiz TV are completely new.  Set up as a real TV show, the game once again pits up to eight players against each other as they tackle various trivia topics.  The Host, Buzz, will as questions in a selected category, and players will pick answers with their remotes.  The difference this time is that the game is presented in 720p (or 1080i) and widescreen, meaning that visual queues are far better, and there is enough capacity to store high quality video clips, audio clips, and far more questions than the titles on the previous platforms.

Support for the PlayStation Eye has been minimal at best, with Burnout Paradise being the standout with its “Oh hell no!” pictures after you’ve been taken down.  The folks at Sony have seen to it that the game utilizes the Eye to a far greater extent.  The camera snaps pictures periodically as you play – before, after, and during the game.  The pictures are saved so players can see just how ridiculous their opponents are on the other end.  Even better than that, they are also saved to the PS3 Photo folder, giving players access to the pictures for later taunting.  If the victor has a PlayStation Eye you’ll also see their celebration on screen after the final questions – it amazes me how few of you feel the need to wear pants.

This is half a control issue, and half a sound issue – Buzz! Quiz TV is just too damned loud.  Utilizing the power of the PlayStation 3, Buzz! Quiz TV is presented in full Dolby surround sound, but somehow the folks at Relentless forgot those of us who might want to turn their music down and the voices up.  Jason Donovan handles the voice of Buzz once again, but I have to admit that I missed so many of his great snarky lines in the game as the music was simply overwhelmingly loud. 
Buzz! Quiz TV seems to use the same sounds as previous titles, so you’ll be treated to comic sounds like being splattered with a pie, the grunts and groans of your character as they suffer humiliating defeat, as well as the well-balanced audio of the audio/visual questions in the game. 

Where improving the PlayStation Eye support is a great example of an improvement based on previous complaints with the platform, the voice support in this title is a great example of getting it all wrong.  Half of playing a great trivia game is the taunting that goes with being the fastest player or crushing your opponents – for some reason the game does not support voice for Sofa vs. Sofa play, meaning that you’ll hear Donovan, but nobody else. 

Speaking of hearing Donovan, you’ll be hearing a lot of him.  Between each level, Buzz will spout off about the particular instructions for the next section.  Similar to Buzz! competitor Scene It!, the game doesn’t allow you to skip these intro sections meaning you’ll hear them over and over.  Frankly, after three or four plays you’ll be rather tired of hearing the same taunts and phrases, but since you can’t adjust this audio slider either, you are stuck with them.

One of the best parts of Buzz! Quiz TV are the new controllers.  In line with what you might expect from the platform, the controllers are wireless.  What will surprise you is the fact that they are actually not Blue Tooth.  You’ll put a dongle into the front of your PlayStation 3 which will allow you to utilize the four included controllers to play the game with three friends.  If you pick up a second set of controllers you’ll be able to expand that limit out to eight simultaneous players for offline play.

Since I own most of the PlayStation 2 versions of Buzz! I was eager to see if these new controllers could be used on them.  To my surprise the answer is yes!  The wireless controllers utilizing WiFi and a dongle to control them may actually be a boon as it means that you don’t have to be tethered to your console with wires should you want to check out any of the previous titles. 

I was surprised to see that Buzz! Quiz TV has cut a feature that has been in almost all of their previous titles – the long and short game.  In previous games you could opt for a short game if you didn’t have a lot of time, or expand your play experience to a long game if you had time to spare.  In this title, you’ll only be able to play the long game which takes roughly 35 minutes from beginning to end since you can’t skip the intros. 

There is one issue that stands out in Buzz! that got on my nerves a few times.  The menu navigation is simply a pain.  Once you’ve committed to a game, there is almost no way to back out with the exception of quitting back to the XMB.  Similarly, there is no way that I could find to pause the game.  It is a frustrating oversight. 

Buzz! Quiz TV is set up pretty much like previous titles – players will battle it out as the snarky Brit host Buzz rattles off questions and insults.  Before the battle can begin you’ll select from over a dozen characters, a few outfits, some buzzer sounds, and a name.  Once you get started you’ll use the aforementioned new wireless buzzers to ring in or select answers in a multiple-choice battle for points which culminates in “The Final Countdown” – a rapid fire time-based quiz that decides the winner.  It is a very simple concept and it couldn’t be easier for new players as well as those returning to the series.

There are a few new gems for Buzz this time, as well as several returning modes.  You’ll play fastest finger where the fastest player earns the most points.  A new mode called Short Fuse is essentially a game of hot potato where players toss a bomb back and forth until it detonates, taking points and replacing them with black soot for the player.  Pie Fight returns to the game, giving players a little bit of payback for that player that has been dogging you round after round.  The new modes work well in the mix of the previous modes, and the randomness of Short Fuse gives players a reason to keep that bomb moving. 

One mode that didn’t seem to make the cut is Globetrotter.  In Globetrotter you’d answer questions about countries, giving the player who answered it correctly control over which country was up next.  Either I haven’t played the game enough for it to come up (doubtful) or it is actually gone.  This mode was the more difficult of the available types, but I don’t think it was so hard as to prevent its inclusion. 

For all of its shiny new presentation, there is very little new under the sun in terms of gameplay.  The gameplay that is here is essentially the same as the previous titles, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.  While it’d be great to see some new modes for the game, these can easily be patched in via the PlayStation Network, but we’ll talk more about that later.

There is one new mode that needs to be mentioned –  If you sign in at this URL you can use your PSN ID to create quizzes of your own, allowing other players to play your questions.  You can make any question you’d like, but they are routinely scanned for anything offensive.  You can also flag them as mature (and you can turn off mature questions in the options menu), and you can put them into any category you wish.  I’ve seen questions ranging from Ancient Greece to Steven Segal movies.  Once you’ve played the custom quiz you can rate it, giving players access to a sort option to play the highest rated of the community-submitted quizzes.  Of all the features that I think defines Buzz! Quiz TV, I believe this option is the key to the title.  While player made quizzes are naturally shorter than the main game, the ability to create them extends Buzz! Quiz TV into a content delivery engine, as I had hoped it would. 

MyBuzz, wireless controllers with backwards compatibility, and a polished presentation make Buzz! Quiz TV a compelling upgrade.  There are roughly 5000 questions available on the disc, giving players hours of entertainment without repetition.  What bites the game in the tail is the inability to skip the cutscenes, and the lovable host himself that actually repeats enough to cause irritation.  In this case, the positives far outweigh the negatives though. 

In the UK you can buy content packs for the game for roughly 3.5 Euros which expand the game by another 500 questions.   While we’ve not seen any announcements of how they will work on the US network, I’d suspect it’ll be similar.  When you factor in the ability to download new content packs from Sony directly, as well as smaller content snippets from other players on the PlayStation Network, there is no doubt that this new addition to the series is well worth the upgrade investment.

The trophy hunters among you will be happy to know that Buzz! Quiz TV is one of the first titles to support the virtual rewards.  You’ll be able to pick up beautiful gold, so-so silver, and oh-so-shameful bronze trophies for playing the game to the best of your ability.  Just like Achievements on the 360, they are laid out based on time, number of total games, number of online matches, number of wins, and many more to give players instant gratification as well as long term goodies. 

As I said, there is very little new under the sun in terms of features in Buzz! Quiz TV, but the ones that are there are significant. Online play for up to four players, offline play for up to eight, and the ability to download question packs from Sony as well as other players round out this upgrade. Wireless controllers move players back from the console, allowing those of us with larger TVs to not go completely blind while playing. Buzz! Quiz TV is a solid title all around.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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