Publicans around Australia must hate the PlayStation 2. First, they brought pub karaoke into the home with their highly popular Singstar series. Now they're taking on pub trivia with Buzz: The Music Quiz, an interactive title that focuses on pop music from the last 50 years.
Unlike pub trivia, Buzz doesn't require you to write your answers on beer-sodden paper while surreptitiously making a mobile phone call to a friend who knows the answers. Each copy of Buzz: The Music Quiz ships with four buzzers, which plug into one of the USB slots on the PS2. Players use these buzzers -- which feature a large red button on top and four colour coded buttons below -- to answer multiple choice music questions.
And rather than a failed middle-aged actor asking the questions in a pub, Buzz is structured like a typical game show, complete with smarmy host, a glamourous female assistant and multiple rounds. And the host is voiced by none other than Australia's answer to the Hoff, Jason Donovan, who does an impressive turn here as the host Buzz.
The game show motif is present at all levels of this game, with players being treated as if they're contestants on a real program. Starting Buzz sees you talking to the show's "producer", which is the game's way of setting up your preferences. Up to four people can play at a time, with players needing to choose the length of game (short, medium or long) and the type of questions asked (focusing on newer music, older music or both).
Before hitting the studio for the start of the show, players will need to choose an on-screen avatar to represent them. There are 16 different characters to choose from, each of whom are pop music stereotypes that many will recognise. There's the Elvis look-a-like, a Barry White, Kylie, Noel Gallagher and more.
Once in the game, the host Buzz takes over and guides players through several rounds of gameplay, with each round featuring different rules and objectives. There are eight types of rounds, including Point Builder (where every player receives points for correct answers regardless of their speed), Snap (where players are required to press the buzzer when the correct answer to a question is flashed on screen), Fastest Finger (first to choose the correct answer scores the largest points) and more. Some of the rounds even allow you to flick questions to other players should you be stuck for an answer (or if you're sure your opponent doesn't know either).
But despite the different types of rounds, there's a feeling of sameness to Buzz: The Music Quiz that sets in after a few sessions. Nearly every question in Buzz has the same format -- a short music is clip is played, then players are asked a question relating to that song while displaying four possible answers. All the various rounds really do is merely dictate the way you can win (or lose) points. It would have been nice to have a variety of games, such as identifying an artist from a picture, or naming albums after seeing the cover.
Another thing that becomes grating rather quickly is Buzz's commentary. While Donovan does a good job of delivering his lines, these Buzz comments happen altogether far too often. You'll find it endearing the first time as it fits the game show theme well, but you'll soon be skipping all of Buzz's in-game banter as it take too much time away from the serious business of music trivia.
But if you can get past the repetitiveness and the annoying banter, there are thankfully plenty of questions included in the game. More than 5000 questions and 1000 music clips are included (although some of the music clips seem like dodgy muzak versions as opposed to the real songs), which should mean plenty of play time before the same questions start popping up.
The game is certainly presented well, with all of the characters looking well defined and colourful. We did notice, though, that Buzz himself looks remarkably like Sesame Street quiz show host Guy Smiley. Coincidence?
Despite its flaws, Buzz: The Music Quiz is a fun game that will win fans of all ages and musical tastes. The inclusion of buzzers is a welcome novelty, although the game is best played in short bursts.
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