Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Relentless Software
Release Date: September 23, 2008
As far as trivia games are concerned, the Buzz! series has been a huge hit for the PlayStation 2. With thousands of questions that include multiple topics and a host who is as quirky as they come, the game is entertaining and has spawned a huge following in Europe. It was only a matter of time before the title came to America, and while it came to the continent at the late stages of the console, it has also proven itself to be a huge hit on this side of the Atlantic. With the PS2 versions already big hits with the trivia crowd and the PS3 version destined to do the same thing, it was inevitable that Sony would release the game on its portable system as well, with Buzz! Master Quiz for the PSP.
Buzz! Master Quiz is split up into both single- and multiplayer modes. The single-player mode features questions from the five classic Buzz! categories: Brainiac, Lifestyle, Movies, Music and Sports. In this version, those categories are presented in six different challenge modes. Snapshot has you answering questions correctly in order to reveal parts of a picture, and answering the question related to the picture gives you bonus points. Top Rank has you ranking the four answers given in the requested order, whether it be oldest to youngest, least to most, etc. Quickfire lets you answer a set number of questions as quickly as possible in order to gain more points. Time has you answer as many questions as possible in the given time limit. Picture This has you answering questions based only on the portion of the picture shown at the time. Finally, Virus gives you highly pixelated pictures that slowly clear up over time. As this is happening, your points slowly deplete. Answering correctly stops the bleeding and adds points, while incorrect answers deplete a few more points before pausing for the next question.
The multiplayer mode is executed pretty well, especially for a portable game. Using the same quiz types as the single-player mode, the multiplayer mode presents three different ways to play the game. Pass Around, good for up to eight players, asks participants to pass around the PSP to other players so that they can also answer questions. Aside from players suddenly trying to sabotage others by passing too late or playing in their place, it works well enough. Game Sharing emulates the console version of the game by having players play on their own PSP systems. However, this is one of the handful of PSP games that only requires one UMD to play, making it a great pick for gamers tired of buying multiple copies of one game to play multiplayer. Finally, Quiz Host has the user playing the role of Buzz as he is given the question, the answer, and the ability to add or reduce points for players as he sees fit. If you like playing a trivia game but have people who aren't inclined to pick up a controller, this is a good alternative; it's also good for people who want to play using their own rule set.
As good as the game is, there are a few flaws that are too significant to ignore. The first flaw is that the question set is somewhat limited. Granted, 3,000 questions is a pretty significant number to have in a portable quiz game, but when you can complete the single-player game and see a few questions more than once, you know that a few more questions would've helped to prevent this from happening. The other flaw is more of a cheating method than anything else. While most games completely obscure any questions or answers displayed when the game is paused, Buzz! Master Quiz doesn't really do that. The game tries to obscure the screen with static and large text boxes, but the answers and questions can still be seen clearly enough. For a trivia game, this is something that shouldn't ever happen.
The controls for Buzz! Master Quiz are rather simple. The directional pad handles menu navigation, while the face buttons handle menu selection and choose which answer is selected during each question. That's really all there is to it.
As far as graphics are concerned, there's really not much to talk about. There are a few questions that contain movie clips and pictures, and all of them look clean on the PSP screen. Buzz himself is rendered nicely and moves very well without any major hitches. For the most part, though, the game is almost entirely text-driven. Without any need for anything other than clean text, this is one game that cannot be judged by the graphics it displays.
Like the graphics, there isn't much to talk about when it comes to sound. The music, for example, is exactly the same music found in previous Buzz! titles. It sounds very appropriate for a game show, but it doesn't stand out otherwise. Sound effects also follow the same rule: They're good, but nothing else makes them stand out. While the same can also be said for the voice work done for both the announcer and Buzz, it's still amazing to see a portable title with all of the questions spoken out loud. This little detail makes the game feel like something original instead of a cheap port of a PS2 game.
Buzz! Master Quiz is a pretty good trivia game that somehow feels right at home on the PSP. The single-player mode lends itself to the portable nature of the system rather well, and the multiplayer isn't as bad as one would think. The presentation of the package is well put together, making it one of the better quiz games out there on any console, despite the issues it has. With the recent lack of PSP games out, Buzz! Master Quiz is one of the safer bets if you feel like picking up something new for Sony's portable console.