I have always been a huge fan of the Buzz! series, despite Jason Donovan's involvement. Seriously, who wouldn't want the chance to electronically trounce your smug mates over a beer or three? Indeed, the only concept sorely lacking from the franchise was the replacement of the Pie Throw round with some kind of electric taser attachment you could shock the loser with. In real life.
Naturally, any possibility of such an add-on was unlikely, but nevertheless I was disappointed when it became obvious that research funds had been channelled away from the development of humiliating and painful personal retribution devices into simply making Buzz! for the PSP.
How on earth could you transform a console title - designed to bring people together - into a game to be played on public transport where everyone tries to keep as far away from each other as humanly possible?
Amazingly enough, developer Relentless Software has achieved nothing short of a miracle, as they've managed to pull off this transformation without making the game absolutely awful. Seriously, most PSP titles are actually quite fun to play because they're built from the ground up to incorporate, and compliment the PSP's controls, and the very nature of portable gaming. They're great because they don't pretend to be anything they're not. Some of the very worst games you'll ever play have been shoe-horned on to a platform, dragged by their hair, kicking and screaming as thousands of lines of code are severed and binned, causing what should be an extension of a brilliant franchise to resemble the complete opposite. Like a new Starbucks store.
No such problems with this title. The beauty of Buzz! Master Quiz lies firmly in the core single-player game, where you move across a quiz board answering various quizzes and attempting to win medals and various other trophies. The word "trophies" being used in the conventional way, rather than any extension of Sony's recently introduced PSN initiative to encourage people to start all their old games from scratch again.
The different rounds are grouped in three with a Time Challenge separating each one. This requires you to answer as many questions as possible within one minute to gain extra points. You also have rounds like the "Quickfire Movie Challenge" where you answer 15 questions, and here, speed is naturally of the essence; an incorrect answer will move you closer to the bottom rung, and correct answers in the fastest time edge you closer towards the elusive medals.
In each round, players can earn these medals for their performance according to how many points they collect from correct answers. Each quiz has bronze, silver and gold medals, and how on earth Relentless managed to independently come up with exactly the same system as employed by the Olympics I'll never know.
As you progress across the screen the questions get more difficult and time restrictions are increased. There are also a number of special trophies available in independent rounds where progression isn't possible until the restrictions of the previous one have been completed; for example "Speedy Fingers" requires you to answer a question correctly in only one second before it lets you move on, providing players with an ample indication of what it's like to be interviewed by John Campbell.
Multiplayer hasn't been neglected, and even if there's only one PSP available you'll still be able to entertain up to four people, each having their own turn to answer questions. Game Share allows users to pass their friends a temporary copy of the game; a bold move likely to aid in the creation of temporary friends. "Pass the Bomb" makes a (welcome?) return, along with the all-new "Quiz Host" that allows one person to select and ask questions. This is actually compatible with up to six players, meaning this portable version of Buzz! is capable of inviting more interaction than the console version. Who would have thought?
With over 5000 unique questions, 1000 pictures and videos, topics including music, celebrities, TV, sport, science, nature, movies and general knowledge, this game has enough to keep anyone entertained whether playing it solo or taking advantage of the multi player modes. After several hours of play endeavouring to achieve gold medals on all rounds, I have only seen a duplicate question on two occasions. This may sound somewhat disappointing, but I'd like to take the opportunity to mention that there are several people camped out at Loch Ness this very minute who would delight in such observable regularity.
Buzz! Master Quiz represents great value, and is ideal for any portable gaming fan who would prefer to be entertained by a good quiz than a book. If it keeps people away from me on public transport, then it should be mandatory.
Have you seen the Buzz! Master Quiz E3 trailer? If not, head over to GP Downloads now! (83MB)