Buzz! The Mega Quiz

The attitude of Buzz! The Mega Quiz could rightly be summed up as over-the-top obnoxiousness, and intentionally so.

Publisher: Sony
Price: $39.99 with buzzers, $29.99 without
Multimedia: Buzz! The Mega Quiz
Platforms: PlayStation 2
Number of players: 1-8
ESRB rating: Early Childhood
Developer: Relentless
US release date: 2007-10-30
Amazon UK affiliate
Amazon affiliate
Developer website

The effectiveness of a so-called "party game" tends to be a terribly subjective thing, making qualitative discussion of such a thing difficult. SingStar, Mario Party, heck, even Twister, all of them are intended for a certain type of person. SingStar is marketed toward those not afraid to make fools of themselves. Mario Party is marketed toward either the crowd who wants to get the kids involved, or the crowd who can make drinking games out of the most innocent things. Twister? The fact that the mere mention of Twister sends college students into fits of giggles should tell you all you need to know about Twister.

Sony, ever willing to dip its fingers into a trend (and party games are as popular as ever thanks to the Wii), has been pushing the SingStar brand of karaoke games harder than ever of late, with no less than three iterations of the series making their way to retail outlets this holiday season. Knowing that the audience for such a product is limited, however, Sony has another card up its sleeve for this year's late-teens-to-early-20s party gaming set: Buzz! The Mega Quiz.

True to its name, Buzz! comes with four buzzers, which, in the first of a few missteps that Buzz! makes, are absolutely required to play the game. The buzzer is the only controller you'll use. The big red button is there so that you can "buzz" in, and there are four color-coded buttons with which you'll answer questions. Mercifully, this does mean that all of the questions are multiple choice. There is none of that spelling out of answers that tends to ruin the flow of the games based on popular game shows, and as Buzz! proves, there are enough ways to spin a multiple choice question that it doesn't have to feel like you're in class taking a test.

So there's the "who's older?" game, there's the "put these things in the correct order" game, there's a game where you toss pies in the face of the other, slower players, and there are straight-up multiple choice questions that are assigned a certain amount of points. There are plenty of games, but it's a quiz show game, and this is to be expected. So the question remains: What makes Buzz! different?

If you can't see the appeal of this, you're dead.

In a word, it's the personality. Buzz! revels in an utterly garish combination of primary and fluorescent colors, basically putting together whatever combinations of colors it can come up with in order to be as loud as freaking possible. All of the possible avatars that you can choose from are loud caricatures/stereotypes like the cowboy, the giant valkyrie-like figure, the over-the-hill Elvis impersonator, and my favorite, the mime. He's my favorite because you don't want to scream "SHUT! UP!" at him after 10 minutes. You know, because he's a mime. You also get to choose the sound your buzzer makes, and you get to choose from the classic "buzz", or it could be a squeak, or a belch, or a host of other intentionally annoying sounds. And then there is our illustrious host, borne of the loud-talking-Brit mold, something of a cross between Simon Cowell and Andy Dick, with all of the self-aggrandizement and smarm that combination implies. His name is Buzz, as if it could be anything else.

Of course, I would be remiss were I to forget Buzz's assistant, the "eye candy" assistant who guides you through each of the games like a patient parent trying to teach a child how to tie shoes.

In a sense, to review Buzz! The Mega Quiz is to review its presentation and attitude, seeing as it does everything else just fine as an entry in a genre that'll never fool anybody into seeing true innovation. As can be seen from the descriptions above, the attitude could rightly be summed up as over-the-top obnoxiousness, and intentionally so. The entire point of the game is to be loud, in your face, quick to congratulate you when you succeed, but always ever-so-ready to pounce when you fail. If you hear the belch-buzzer of one of your adversaries, it's doubly annoying seeing as not only did you not buzz first, but you have to listen to that disgusting belch again. It's almost painful seeing and hearing the entire package, but somehow, it works. It's a formula that's worked well enough to keep the Buzz! franchise in business for three years and counting, so apparently there's a market for this. Intentionally annoying or not, everything fits together in the vision of the developers, thus making it the sort of admirable mess of a product that somehow makes its unoriginality and lack of traditional charm endearing.

Good for you, dancing grandma. Good for you.

As far as the Buzz! games go, if you're looking for a place to start, The Mega Quiz is probably the perfect one. It holds a Trivial Pursuit-level number of questions, the topics run the gamut from pop culture to history to sports to common knowledge, and there are pie fights involved. Occasionally you will run into the problem of question repeats (particularly in the more specialized types of games like "who's older?"), but this occurrence is rare enough that you can safely ignore the idea that you might get a repeat over the course of a night of gaming.

Oh, and as if I had to tell you, don't even bother with the one-player mode. It's amazing they even allow you to select one player, and there's very little that a game like this could have done to make the one-player experience any more exciting than this rather pathetic little "beat your high score!"-style timed game.

Here's the thing about Buzz! The Mega Quiz: I detest nearly everything about it -- its presentation, its noisiness, its sense of style -- but there is no denying that it is perhaps the best game in the party-game-show genre that the PlayStation 2 has to offer. There's also no denying that despite the game's repellent style, it's almost impossible to not have fun playing it. It moves fast, and if you can get eight people sitting around the television and playing, there's sure to be trash-talking, furious competition, and lots of laughs. Despite my own reservations, then, I can do naught but deem it a success.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.