Buzz! Master Quiz
Bringing a game from a traditional 'under the TV' console to a handheld is fraught with problems at the best of times. When a large part of the appeal of the original comes from its specially designed peripheral the task becomes exponentially harder (just ask anyone who's had the misfortune to play the DS incarnation of Guitar Hero). So it's something of a surprise to find that the PSP version of the massively popular Buzz quiz games manages to be really rather fun despite its move to the palm of your hand, and the disappearance of its trademark buzzers.
A large part of the reason for its success comes from the developers welcome understanding that the traditional Buzz experience simply wasn't going to work very well on the PSP. So instead the multiplayer side of the game has been subtly re-jigged to focus on modes that are well-suited to handheld gaming rather than feeling forced.
There are three of these multiplayer modes to enjoy and pleasingly two of them only require one PSP to play. First up is 'Pass Around' which, as the name suggests, involves passing the PSP from player to player as they each answer questions. The beauty of this mode however is in the way the game gets you to interact with the other players. The Weak Spot round for example shows one player a question and asks them to pass the PSP to a player of their choice allowing them to deviously exploit other player's weaknesses. There's also the Snapshot round which allows players to select a small area of a larger image before passing the PSP on to the next player who has to identify the full image from the chosen section.
The Quiz Master mode is a simple yet great idea allowing one person to act as the titular quiz master and effectively control a quiz for up to six people by asking the prompted questions and entering their scores on the PSP. Here too the game manages to liven things up by getting the quiz master to set and judge daft mini challenges such as who can make the best bird noise and who has the hairiest arms. Yes it's a bit silly, but it's also a laugh and it's not like Buzz is pretending to be Mastermind.
The last multiplayer mode on offer allows up to four PSP's to play together using a single UMD. These quizzes are sadly lacking any of the more entertaining multimedia bells and whistles leaving simple text only multiple choice questions which is a bit of a shame and does beg the question why there's no support for quizzes between PSP owners with their own full copy of Buzz.
Single player was never the strong point of Buzz games so it's perhaps a little unfair to ask for anything different here. Answer a series of questions to earn a score, repeat to try and beat your own high score and give up when you get bored. How quickly that happens will depend on your own tolerance for solo trivia but it's definitely not a reason to recommend the game as most people will probably tire of it after a couple of hours.
Answering questions works pretty much how you'd expect, each of the four possible answers are mapped to the PSP's face buttons meaning it's just as simple to play as ever. There are apparently five thousand questions available, spread over a variety of categories, which may sound a decent number but to be honest it wasn't long before a bit of repetition started to creep in. A fact made unfortunately more noticeable perhaps by the stream of new content offered via DLC and user generated quizzes on the PS3 version of Buzz.
Disappointingly the look of the game is something of a wash out. Gone is the glossy TV Quiz style presentation fans are used too, instead you basically get the questions and answers on screen with just the game's host, Jason Donavan voiced Buzz himself, for company. It's all a little drab and considering the series humble PS2 origins it's a shame more effort wasn't made to flesh out the visual side of things to at least that kind of standard.
Much like its PS2 and PS3 siblings Buzz Master Quiz isn't going to appeal if you don't like quiz games and played on your own it becomes dull quickly. But, the enjoyable multiplayer modes make it the ideal travel game and while it's not the ultimate handheld quiz it does the job well enough while we wait for something better.