Buzz! Master Quiz

Pocket-Sized Buzzing

Buzz! has finally come to the PSP. Wanna see what we thought?
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: October 26, 2008
The office infatuation with the Buzz! series is something we're not shy about. Many a work week has concluded with our own Buzz! Office Drinking Game, and it's not only a great way to kill brain cells and blow off steam, but with the relatively huge number of questions, offers little in the way of repetition, even after months of causal play.


Of course, with the game on the PS2 and now the PS3, there was still an issue of being able to take the quiz show experience on the road. The PSP version of things, Buzz! Master Quiz goes a long way toward fixing that, but without the custom controllers and a lot of the variety found in the console versions, it's not quite as enticing as we'd hoped. Good, certainly, but not great.

For starters, one of the biggest draws to the game, obviously, is its multiplayer component; a bunch of people all sitting on a couch and duking it out at the same time to see who can answer fastest. On the PSP, much of this is diminished. There's a Game Sharing option that lets you wirelessly send the game and a handful of questions (up to 50 of 'em if you want) to three of your friends, and there's a passaround option too where the game will tell you who to send things to next (it also allows you to influence the other players between questions by, say, dropping a point-stealing virus on them or indicating what part of a Picture This puzzle is revealed, making it harder for someone to guess what the pic underneath is. While both of these options give you the gist of things (and there's a third where you can serve as your own Buzz, but I never really felt that mode's hooks sinking in), they are pretty far removed from what the console versions offer.

Of course, there's also a single-player element to contend with, and it was clearly designed for quick, bite-sized bouts against the smarmy host (who is far less prevalent here than on consoles). The game weighs in a little smaller than the console versions, too, with only 3000 questions, eight categories and a handful of different game modes. Though the questions are shared between single-player and multiplayer modes, most of the single-player stuff is fairly self-contained.

To help keep things interesting, the game also sports a set of trophies -- before you get excited, that's trophies with a lower-case T, meaning they aren't the PSPs equivalent of the ones offered on the PS3 (at least yet), but they certainly do serve their purpose, which is to give you a little something extra to work for while answering questions. These trophies, in bronze, silver and gold, are both challenging and encouraging to work toward, as there's a constant progress bar at the bottom of the screen to indicate how close you are to breaking the next trophy barrier all the way up to a gold for a full or near-full meter.

The actual presentation, though, despite offering images, movies and audio (making headphones doubly important), is a little lacking. Without a full graphical interface, the static screens and simple face button assignments for each of the answers don't have a lot of room to really pop. They do the job, certainly, but not to the extent that you'd expect for a system with the kind of portable muscle that the PSP offers. As a result, things are quick and zippy, but ultimately a little on the boring side.

Buzz! Master Quiz certainly does distill the basics of the console versions into something more readily accessible on the go, but it doesn't ape the series' peculiar charm all that well. The result is something that feels like Buzz!, but eventually ends up being something of a Buzz! Lite, the pieces are all here, but they don't really come through as a total package. The game is certainly good, and more than a few times I ended up pulling out my PSP to kill time while riding the train into the office. It serves a purpose, and as portable trivia offerings go, there's really not a whole lot else out there, so if nothing else Master Quiz fills a niche, but it's not quite console Buzz! on the go. Good, certainly, but not a must-have by any means.
The Verdict
7.0

Buzz! Master Quiz is a modest, safe approximation of the console games. It's neither as good nor as varied as them, but the multiplayer options can be entertaining. Just don't use it as a replacement for the console games and you'll be fine.

6.0Graphics:

Static screens and minimal visual flair makes for a rather boring presentation, but it gets the job done.

7.5Sound:

Headphones aren't entirely necessary, but they're welcome. Unfortunately, there's not a whole lot in the way of aural ambiance here.

8.5Control:

It works pretty much as you'd expect, though something is definitely lost in translation without those little controllers.

7.0Gameplay:

It's Buzz!, certainly, but a truncated version of it. If you must have trivia on the go, you'll be fine here, but don't expect the kind of nail-biting tension found when playing against others on your couch.