E3 06: Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party Hands-On

The Buzz! series goes for the kids with a minigame title played with the flashing buzzers. We make like Mowgli and head to the jungle.

LOS ANGELES--Controllers don't come much simpler than the Buzz! buzzer, but the games themselves have always featured questions that cater to the adult market. The Buzz Junior range will include titles that use the controller to play simpler games aimed at kids aged 6 to 10, and Jungle Party is the first title to come out under this banner.

The game will feature around 10 single-player games, but the focus is multiplayer with 40 minigames for up to four people. The games are not based on questions--they have more in common with the games in Sony's EyeToy: Play range. The buzzer is used to play very simple games that mostly involve pressing the buzzer at the right time or using the four coloured buttons to select a competitor.

The first round we played featured the four monkey characters passing a bomb between themselves. The one holding the bomb accumulated points, but if they hold the bomb when it goes off, they will lose points. The idea is to hold on to the bomb for as long as you dare before offloading it on to someone else.

We played three other rounds with the designer of the game at E3. In the first, you had to knock a huge totem pole down block by block by pressing the correct colour of each piece on the Buzz controller. Press the wrong button, and you'll be temporarily paralyzed, leaving the opposition to race ahead. The other round involved sitting in a bath tub with a sleepy gorilla, with the aim of holding the buzzer down to fart. If he catches you doing it, you'll lose all your points, so like the bomb round, the idea is to hold on for as long as you dare. In the last game we played, you have to stop an arrow that moves at 90 degrees and a power meter that determines how far you throw a coconut. The idea is to match the direction and the power to hit the other players, and it plays like a simplified version of the Monkey Fight minigame from Super Monkey Ball.

These games are obviously not going to challenge adults for too long, but the presentation and simplicity of Jungle Party had us entertained at Sony Europe's booth. At this stage, the game looked like it was forming nicely, even if this build featured only 10 out of the 40 games that will eventually be available. The game also dishes out encouragement and taunts, and the animation of the monkeys is nicely polished. The game is out in October, along with Buzz! The Sports Quiz.

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