Nov 2, 2007
With game show style and support for up to eight players at once, Buzz! The Mega Quiz is designed first and foremost as a party game. The overcaffeinated, muppet-looking host and his Vanna White-like sidekick rattle off questions that most everyone should have at least a shot at knowing, and the only folks likely to have trouble operating the custom controllers - which have one giant red button and four smaller rectangular ones that correspond to the possible answers onscreen - are those who can't remember the rules to Rock, Paper, Scissors. Simply put: if you understand English, you can play this game.
In fact, you may be able to win it. Buzz keeps the field level to a fault. With 5000 questions on offer, it's unlikely that your competitors will have memorized everything already, and many rounds don't even require you to answer first - you just have to be right - so those with slow reflexes have a solid chance.
Now for that fault we mentioned: in a move that could tweak off serious competitors, being in the lead can be a curse. Many matches end in a pie fight, in which your score is turned into hit points and the player who buzzes in first knocks a point off of whatever competitor they select. It's fine with only two or three players, but in a larger group of 6 or 8, it's not uncommon for the field to gang up and first eliminate the leader, then the second place guy, then the third, and so on until someone in the middle of the pack ends up the victor. Unless the leader can be first seven out of every eight questions - which isn't likely.
Sure, it's all in fun, The Weakest Link gives lesser players a similar chance to get all mob rule on more skillful adversaries, and some would say it's not even a flaw - but if you're really competitive, this could still drive you nuts. So could the glacier-slow pacing, which burns a ton of time showing the host dorking around or making campy, but not actually funny comments instead of moving quickly on to the next question or round. It's fine with big groups because it leaves time to chat, but it quickly wears thin, especially with fewer players.
It's almost as if Buzz! is a pilot TV show - the script needs to be tightened and the casting tweaked, but it has huge hit potential. It's got massive mainstream appeal, the controllers are fun and well-designed - though we do wonder how, when the game supports eight players but the game only comes with four buzzers, how we're supposed to get controls for those other four players without buying the game again - and it gets more fun the more people you have. It's not going to set the hardcore world on fire, but it's a nearly perfect party game, and there's room for that in this world.