A quiz game...as in educational.
For a gaming console.
And it's fun!
Developed in early 2005 for the Playstation 2 console by Relentless Software, the first game (Buzz! The Music Quiz) was a roaring success. Using a special control, up to 4 players can compete head-to-head as part of a gameshow in your own living room!
The fantastically quirky controller is a single port plug-in with the lead then joining to an adaptor which in turn led to 4 separate wires, each connected to a Buzz control.
The control is made up of 4 coloured buttons for multiple choice questions and a large red 'buzzer' on the top for buzz-in questions.
This, The Schools Quiz, was actually the sixth game released for the console and was the first quiz game released aimed at children. Buzz Junior, a series of games using the special controls to play mini-games, had been successful as a sideline (and another excuse to buy a set of buzzers!), but was a 'just for fun' series rather than the quiz format.
With this game the developers used partial funding from the department of Skills and Education to get it into production. The title was a huge risk in case the younger audience weren't receptive to an educational game, but fortunately it was well received by parents and kids alike (perhaps partially because the game was rather cheap if you already had the buzzer controls) and it sold well.
Now then, the game says on the front that it uses 'Key Stage 2' questions, which is taught as part of the national curriculum syllabus in schools to 7-11 year olds.
I'm ashamed to say that while most of the questions were simple for an adult, I did struggle in places! I'm a reasonably well educated 30 year old male, and I can only say that school education must have changed a LOT in the last couple of decades!
That said, I have to say that adults versus children on this game is a serious mismatch. It is a nice little challenge with children of the same age group playing and it balances fun and education while remaining just challenging enough to keep their attention.
The game holds little for adult entertainment, but I must admit it was rather a revelation how little I knew about a couple of core subjects! I can't help thinking that it could be fun for a group of adults to play a game just for the embarrassment value!
The visuals are top drawer, just as you'd expect from the Playstation 2. Bright and bold, plenty of flashing lights and cartoon style characters. There are plenty of avatars to choose to play as, all with alternate outfits and quirky little animations.
The music is cheesy, loud and bouncy - as expected with a gameshow - and the main host is voiced by none other than Jason Donovan. Hardly an audio treat, but good fun all the same.
The game is a little bit repetitive with just 6 rounds. They all offer variety, but after a couple of plays it becomes 'more of the same'.
There are 5000 different questions built into the game, which sounds like a lot but really isn't. After a dozen games you will start to get repeat questions meaning that anyone who has played before has a bit of an advantage. Someone who plays the individual game could easily chew through most of the questions in a week or so, taking the fun out of multiplayer mode.
In all this is a great game for parties and something to keep the kids quiet for an hour, but it doesn't offer much beyond that. If you already have the buzzers then it's worth picking up the 'solus' game on the cheap but I really wouldn't recommend shelling out for the expensive set complete with buzzers if this will be the only Buzz game in your collection.