Buzz! Probably doesn't get the credit it deserves. While Nintendo has been lapping up praise for developing a console that appeals to a wide range of people, Sony has been tapping into that non-gamer market for a good few years now. With its EyeToy, SingStar and Buzz franchises the company has a strong grip on casual and group gaming, and Buzz's latest quiz offering should make the entire family keen to gather around the TV and do what at one stage seemed impossible: play a video game.
If you've played any of the previous Buzz! Quiz titles you'll be instantly at home with Buzz! The Mega Quiz. As usual, the game is controlled entirely with the supplied Buzzer controllers, meaning players need no knowledge of the PlayStation controller. Everything is colour coded so things really couldn't be any simpler. Numerous game modes are on offer, but most people will dive straight into the main game, where up to eight players can compete (if you've got two sets of buzzers).
Character selection is simple and can even be skipped if you really can't handle the complexities of entering a name, and then you're straight in to the quiz action. Things start off pretty tamely, with the first round giving points for correct answers without time having any effect. Soon things heat up though, with fastest answers coming into play. The rounds are nicely varied in their structure, taking inspiration from many popular quiz shows throughout the years, and questions are a mix of text, video, pictures and audio.
The final two rounds are what really make The Mega Quiz such a great game to play with your non-gaming mates. Stealing points in the penultimate round is always fun and gives struggling players a chance to catch up to the leader in double quick time, and it's a sure-fire way to get people annoyed going into the Final Countdown. Here you're given a stack of gold equivalent to your current score, with the winner being the last person to have some gold remaining.
It's another simple game, but it works so well. A correct answer will keep your stack of gold as it was, but the fastest answer will add on a chunk of gold, while an incorrect answer will cause your pile of gold to deplete. It makes for a constantly changing final round where you can be winning one minute, only to fall to last moments later.
Sore losers can customise their games to ensure the more annoying rounds aren't played, but doing so takes out what makes Buzz! such a fun game to play. It's far better to jump into one of the other game modes if you want a stricter quiz, such as the Quickfire quiz mode or the high score challenge single-player mode. Quiz Master is a nice attempt at adding user created content to the game but it relies on the master being knowledgeable and truthful, while Team play will no doubt appeal to players who aren't likely to want to play in a normal situation.
As ever, The Mega Quiz will only work while questions are fresh, but by using a memory card the game keeps track of used questions to ensure repetition won't be a problem for some time. The game also seems a little snappier than previous entries in the Buzz! series, although there are still moments where there are unexplained pauses. Buzz himself is also a rather love him or hate him character, and his phrases are sure to irritate a few players.
Buzz! The Mega Quiz is just about as good as the series is going to get on the PlayStation 2. If you want a game that the entire family can enjoy no matter their prior exposure to video games, The Mega Quiz will be perfect. Don't buy it if you're not planning to play with friends as you'll miss out on the game's core game mode, but social gamers should lap this up.