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November 17 2009
Buzz: Brain of Oz - PSP Review
Release Date Distributor Publisher Developer
24/3/2009SonySonyCurve Studios
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It's Buzz down in Australia!
As a kid growing up, my mum disallowed videogames in the house (and hence from Santa too) on the basis that they were "nasty antisocial things" and that "your eyes will go square". Thankfully, my eyes aren't square (well… not yet), however the Buzz series on the PS2 and PS3 is a perfect example of how videogames can bring people together infront of the TV; both young and old. However, Buzz: Brain of Oz on the PSP doesn't exactly bring people together – it's primarily one-player, there are no buzzers, and it's presented on a small screen that's made for one. Thankfully though despite this, with the familiar dulcet tones of Jason Donovan, Buzz: Brain of Oz pulls through with a solid addition to the series.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Buzz: Brain of Oz puts you on the set of a quiz show, hosted by a Guy-Smiley-esque character that conveniently goes by the name Buzz. You choose one of several stereotypically exaggerated characters, and then progress through 15 different challenges, split into six challenge types across 5 topics. Buzz isn't one to keep his opinions to himself however, so he'll make sure to poke fun at every stuff-up you make along the way.

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An Austrlaian Super 12 question.
The 6 game types are split over picture, video and knowledge questions. "Snapshot Challenge" asks you questions where a correct answer reveals a part of an overall picture – you then have the option to pass or answer a question based upon the (partly hidden) picture. "Picture This" puts you through 10 questions relating to pictures which are shown. "Top Rank Challenge" has you ordering the 4 parts of the answer in the correct order. "Virus Challenge" has your score being eroded by viruses while you guess the answer to a pixelated image.

"Quickfire Round" has you answering 15 commonly-themed questions. "Time Challenge" has you answering as many questions as possible in 60 seconds. There's extra trophies thrown in to aim for in Buzz: Brain of Oz, with requirements ranging from answering a question in under a second, to answering 20 questions in a row; it's simple enough, but most are far too hard to actually achieve without cheating.

Notice how I mentioned that Buzz: Brain of Oz is primarily single player? There are several multiplayer modes, but they mostly revolve around passing the PSP around to your mates. The fittingly-named "Pass Around" mode has you and your friends taking it in turn to answer questions, and also allows you to select which portions of question pictures are shown to the next player. "Quiz host" lets a player act as Buzz himself – physically asking the players questions and answers, and manually divvying out points (why would you even bother with the PSP then??). "Game sharing" is the only worthwhile multiplayer mode which plays a standard quiz mode with other PSP owners – it's simple, but it's the fastest-finger-first gameplay that we've come to expect from Buzz.

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Another PSP Buzz: Brain of Oz screenshot.
Now given that Buzz: Brain of Oz has "Oz" in the title, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this game is all about Vegemite, Fosters and Kangaroos. In reality however, perhaps only 10-20% of the questions are local to Australia, and the remainder are standard questions that non-Aussies would have just as much luck answering (if not more luck). And the Aussie questions aren't just standard tourist fare, they also relate to 'normal' Australian trivia such as Red Rooster and the Sheffield Shield cricket trophy. Visually there's a bit of Australian flag trimmings in the menus and on Buzz's tie, but aurally is where it really shines – when I answered a question quickly and Buzz jumped in with the comment "Last time I saw such speed I was leaving Tasmania", I must admit I pooed my pants a little.

My big concern with quiz games such as Buzz is the potential to have repeated questions, and sadly through my very first play through the single-player campaign I experienced 2 questions that were repeated word-for-word. You'll find that pictures will be reused for several different questions too; for instance an image of the Arc De Triumph is used with questions relating to France, Paris and Napoleon on 3 separate occasions – while it's not the same as repeating answers, it still has potential to give an unwarranted advantage.

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Go on, tell us the answer!
Visually Buzz: Brain of Oz looks as you'd expect from a quiz game – there's plenty of flashy full-motion-video and pre-recorded backgrounds, but not a great deal in the real-time 3d department. The interface is pretty and functional however, with the answers being spatially mapped out relative to the button locations, which makes snappy question-answering that little bit easier. The game sticks with the same theme and feel of Buzz titles on the Sony's home consoles, and with a load of images, movies and audio clips as part of the game, there's plenty of visual content crammed onto the UMD too.

I was weary when I received Buzz: Brain of Oz to review, when I saw that it didn't come with a set of buzzers – the trademark weapons of the Buzz series. I was pleasantly surprised to find that as a single-player game, this is great fun in short as well as extended bursts, and there's never a dull moment with Buzz's many quips and comments. As for multiplayer, which is what Buzz is generally all about, all the multiplayer modes with the exception of game sharing are a complete waste of time (especially quiz host). If you're expecting Buzz: Brain of Oz to be a direct port of the PS3 line, you'll be disappointed, however if you want to widen your general knowledge with an easy-to-pick-up game with witty Australian-themed humor, then Buzz is your man.

Review By: Chris Gobbett

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GRAPHICSBuzz Brain of Oz has simple, but effective, presentation.
SOUNDGreat commentary, backed by the full game show atmosphere.
GAMEPLAYAddictive gameplay, as good for 2 seconds as it is for 2 hours.
VALUESome poor multiplayer modes, and question repetition is questionable.
OVERALLBuzz: Brain of Oz brings yet more Buzz brainiac quiz action to the PSP, together with brilliantly addictive gameplay. Question repetition and multiplayer issues aside, this is a great game for both Buzz fans and newcomers to the series.

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