The Buzz! series has made a greater impact in Great Britain than it has in the U.S., but with some luck, perhaps that will change with Mega Quiz. We spent some hands-on time with this multiplayer trivia title for the PlayStation 2 and had a blast. If nothing else, Sony's enthusiasm for the game was infectious, and it looked to translate nicely into the game's sense of goofy fun.
But prepare to unplug your Dual Shock: Buzz! ships with four unique controllers that seem like more than just a general inspiration for Microsoft's recently announced Scene It? controllers. A big red buzzer resides at the top, while four smaller buttons are in a row beneath. In most cases, the red button serves the obvious function of letting you buzz in to answer a question first, while the others allow you to make onscreen choices. You aren't limited to four players though, since you can add a second collection of buzzers for competitions including up to eight players.
We kicked back on a couch with a few Sony reps to see how well we would fare. The first mode we jumped into was Globetrotter. Here, a player chooses a country the question should relate to. A mini-jet then rushes across the globe to that locale, where the question presents itself. Players then choose an answer and receive points based on whether they chose the correct answer, and how quickly they did so. The questions were surprisingly difficult, requiring knowledge of such things as fruits named after Moroccan cities, and Canadian sports.
We then moved to a game in which a blurry picture slowly comes into focus, and we had to answer a question about it. Most of the images were perfect conversation starters, such as one in which a small monkey dressed as a sheep was perched on a man's shoulder. You just can't make stuff like this up. Next on the agenda was a game reminiscent of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, in which you have to put four words in order based on certain criteria. Some of the tasks were simple, such as putting four meals in order from earliest to latest. Others, like arranging countries in order from northernmost to southernmost, proved more difficult.
Then we played Point Stealer. If you are the first to answer a question correctly in this round, you earn points by choosing the player from whom you want to steal points. The coup de grace was the Final Countdown. In this round, each player begins with a bar that represents the number of points they had going into the round. From here, a barrage of questions ensues on a variety of topics. If you are the first to get the question right, your meter rises. If you are correct but not first to buzz in, it remains static. And of course, if you get it wrong, your meter depletes. The player with remaining points in his meter is the winner of the round.
When all is said and done, players receive trophies based on their performances. Not that every trophy is desirable: If you are the slowest player to buzz in, Mega Quiz is quick to "reward" you. But the game isn't just about the trivia--it's about casual fun. To this end, players choose from a group of 14 avatars; our favorite was a substantially taller version of Napoleon Bonaparte. You can also customize buzzer sounds, so if you want to make monkey hoots every time you answer a question, you can make it so.
The kooky fun is further enhanced by popular British actor Jason Donovan, who provides the voice for the game's host, aptly named Buzz. We had a terrific time playing Buzz! The Mega Quiz, and its 8 modes (and a mystery mode) are bound to appeal to families and friends looking to have a silly, good time. We'll bring you more news as it becomes available.