The Buzz franchise has been around for a while now, starting out on the PlayStation 2 in 2005 with Buzz: The Music quiz. Relentless Software, being true to their name, have been churning out titles since then on PS2, PSP and PS3, and Buzz: The Ultimate Music Quiz represents the thirteenth instalment for the series (or eighteenth if you include the junior editions).
As you might have guessed from the title, this iteration of Buzz is about music. Questions cover most genres from the 1960s to more recent times, so there will be something you’ll be able to answer and a whole lot more you probably won’t. There’s plenty of ‘listen to this clip and tell who the artist is’ type trivia, but also more obscure questions covering early band members, reform dates, song lyrics and plenty of others too.
Little has changed in the Buzz formula since its inception, and other than a couple of minor additions here, The Ultimate Music quiz doesn’t stray very far from the tried and trusted template. The main chunk of the game revolves around the familiar multi-round multiplayer quiz, where up to eight players (if you’ve enough Buzz controllers), can compete for the prodigious Buzz virtual prizes.
Before this, the players get to choose their over-the-top on-screen caricature, though those with access to the PlayStation Eye can put their own images into the game through the “Paper Face” feature, superimposing them onto the faces of the in-game avatars. You’re also able to do this with Buzz, the sarcastic and overly long speaking game host, voiced by Jason Donovan. It’s all very silly, but it’s bright and cheery looking, with plenty of suggestive animations and double entendres thrown about at every turn.
The main mode has the option of short, medium and massively long games by including more of less of the different round types on offer. All start with Point Builder, where points are earned for correct answers, no matter how quickly questions are answered. From here there’s Fastest Finger, in the same vain as Point Builder, but points are awarded in the order of correctly answered questions. Then there’s Stop the Clock, Pie Fight, On the Spot, Pass the Bomb, Over the Edge, Boiling Point, Point Stealer, High Stakes and lastly, the Final Countdown. Here player’s platforms are raised in the air, based on how many points have been gained in the previous rounds. The higher they are, the more time the player has to answer further questions. Get them right and more time is gained, hit the floor however, and you’re eliminated. The last man standing is declared the winner, and Buzz goes on to award them their virtual prize.
New to Buzz this time around is the inclusion of a Move specific mode, though you still need the Buzz controllers to get the most out of the game. Rather than integrate in to the action fully, there is a very limited four round quiz with an augmented reality concept to it. The same questions still pop-up, but this time you’ll be swinging a hammer at the right answer, picking it up with a magnet, shooting them with a laser-gun or popping all the balloons with the wrong answer leaving the right one floating in the air. The trouble is it’s the same four rounds in the same order again and again and again. It’s a really weak effort just to get the Move badge on the front of the box; it seems very lazy not to have included a few more round types that would be picked at random for this area of the game. It is fun the first time, average the second and plug your fingers into a mains socket and turn it on till you fry the third.
Buzz tries to pad out and extend its question range by allowing users to generate their own quiz content. Anything created by users can be played in a separate mode and your own quizzes can be created with the PS3 or more easily on a PC via the MyBuzzQuiz.com website. Quality is extremely variable and subject matter community policed; if you’ve ever looked at the Facebook user generated quizzes, you’ll know what to expect. It can be hard finding the cream amongst the sour and decaying tripe, though there is a rating system to help out a bit.
Also trying to extend the game life is a number of question packs available for download on PSN, including question sets on videogames and sci-fi. At £3.99 a go for only five hundred questions, they don’t seem to be particularly good value for money. What’s more, they don’t integrate particularly well within the game. There’s a mode for playing extra question packs but you have to have two or more players in order to get the most out of it. A game like this is obviously more fun to play with family and friends, and the main game mode is designed around that, but it would have been a bonus to play these as a quick-fire round in a solo capacity. If you have a particular interest in one of the specialised packs they’re worth a look, but there simply aren’t enough questions to them to prolong the game very far.
It does seem like Relentless Software are trying to extend to the Buzz template a little bit more with the user generated rounds and the Move controller mode, but they end up being under developed gimmicks. There are plenty of questions on offer in the game, but the Ultimate Music quiz seems shallow compared to the more entertaining general trivia and TV versions, particularly with the perturbing lack of video; it does little to build upon the foundations of previous titles. Unless you’re a serious music trivia buff, and have a few friends that share your enthusiasm for it, it turns out to be a somewhat soulless endeavour.