Buzz! Master Quiz Hands-On

We can have trivia on the go now that Buzz has made his first appearance on the PSP.

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One would assume that part of the appeal of playing trivia games is to have a good time with friends and make fun of each other when someone gets the wrong answer. That is probably why the Buzz series has done so well on the PlayStation 2; everyone gets their own buzzer so that they feel like they're part of a game show. Buzz! Master Quiz marks the first time that the franchise has taken its muppet-like host and condensed it onto a handheld. The appeal of the PlayStation Portable is that you can play anywhere, and when you bring Buzz with you, you're bound to be entertained or at least learn a thing or two. We had a chance to get some hands-on time with the US version and had fun with it.

Everyone's a winner!
Everyone's a winner!

Buzz! Master Quiz may not have the glitz or glamour of its console counterpart, such as a stage and the ability to see your wacky characters do their thing (like throw pies). However, the core concept is there, and if you like trivia, you should have fun. The single-player mode starts you off with three types of trivia modes. Once you've scored a medal in each, a time challenge opens up, then you'll have access to another three modes, and this repeats until you've unlocked them all. We didn't take very long to unlock everything and found that by the end, there were a handful of questions that came up twice in the pool of more than 5,000 questions. You don't get your own buzzer, but the answers can all be selected using the square, triangle, circle, and X buttons.

One of the modes includes a Snap Shot challenge where you'll get to uncover a portion of a picture if you answer a question correctly. When you are able to guess what the picture is, you can select to play for bonus points. Top Rank challenge has you rearranging the order of the answer, and Quickfire challenges are just a list of questions about music, celebrities, television, or movies. The Picture This challenge is where a small portion of a picture is revealed, and you'll need to answer a question related to it. Sometimes this is easy, but sometimes you get someone's ear revealed, so it makes it rather difficult to answer the question. This mode is more fun in the multiplayer game because you can choose to give your opponent the least revealing part of the picture, with he or she having to answer the question. The Virus challenge deducts points the longer you take to answer, and the picture that is shown slowly fades into view, making it difficult to answer quickly. There seems to be a good variety of modes, but once you've played through them once, you may not want to play through them again. This version of Buzz, however, does have a good spread of topics, which ranges from science to sports, and is definitely geared toward a US audience.

When you're playing in a couple of the multiplayer modes, you'll pass the PSP from one person to another. You might wonder why anyone would want to play this way, but because it is portable, this could make time go faster when you're waiting in a really long line with friends. In the Pass Around mode, you can choose a full game or just a three-round quick game where you pass the PSP once you've had your turn. Each round is different so that it mixes things up; for example, you might play a round of a Snap Shot challenge, but then the next round might be a rollover round where the points will roll over to the next contestant until someone gets the right answer and takes all the points if you don't get the question right. There is also the ability to customize your own rounds, so if there is a particular format you don't like, you don't have to play it. At the end of the game, awards will be given out to players so that you can see who has the slowest reaction or who answered the most questions incorrectly. Even losers get an award so no one feels left out.

This is the Virus challenge. Can you guess what that is?
This is the Virus challenge. Can you guess what that is?

There's also a Quiz Host mode where one person acts as the host, and he or she will be the one distributing the points, as well as reading the questions out loud with the answers. Whether or not this mode will be fair depends on the moral character of the quiz host. Up to six players can play in these multiplayer modes, and everyone can choose his or her own wacky character, from Gran to the cowboy. Buzz and his sarcastic comments are all still intact, so all the charm that comes with Buzz games is still here, except in a smaller package. The final multiplayer mode, Game Share, only requires one copy of the game, which you can share with up to four players in a standard answer-the-questions-as-fast-as-you-can mode.

Trivia enthusiasts should mark their calendars because Buzz! Master Quiz will be released stateside on September 23.

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