Buzz!: Brain Bender
We all know Buzz! on the PlayStation is fantastic fun; you’ll be hard pressed to find a more mirthful party experience. Huge amounts of fun can be garnered from a round or six with a couple of mates, everyone feverishly mashing their oversized plastic buzzers in a frantic bid to answer a question asked by everyone’s favourite muppet-mouthed quiz host Buzz.
However the event is majorly stripped down if you’re playing by yourself. Take away the social element and you have an experience devoid of any social hustle and bustle, which is half the joy. It’s just not the same playing on your lonesome, arbitrarily answering questions without the company of friends.
So it’s understandable that Curve have decided to completely change the format for their latest Buzz! venture. It’s just a shame that the transition from multiplayer game show to single player puzzler isn’t much fun.
The puzzles themselves are simple to get into: select one of four modes (Observation, Memory, Analysis and Calculation), choose a subgame (there are four for each category) and then complete as many examples of the assigned task you can in the space of 60 seconds. These include placing images in the correct place in a picture, remembering jigsaw puzzle pieces and counting to see whether there are more parrots or monkeys on the screen.
Each activity boils down to the exact same procedure: press a button to select your answer, then repeat until the clock runs out. You’re given a score then encouraged to do better the next time round. Anyone who’s played Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training will be immediately familiar with how things work here, which is no surprise: B!BB (that’s a lotta Bs!) is almost an exact clone of the DS title, albeit it with a graphical facelift and a more fun-orientated approach. Not that there’s much fun to be found here; any sense of enjoyment seems to have been lost during the transition of genre.
It’s not the only loss that in comparison make the PS3 versions of Buzz! a joy to play either. The glitz of the television studio has been replaced with a static image of a science lab which is only really visbile behind the menu options while Rose (Buzz’s glamorous red-headed assistant) is nowhere to be seen, rendering the friendly banter that raised a smile in previous Buzz! games distinctly absent. Sure, Buzz does indeed return with his humorous quips, but he’s much more charismatic and funny when he’s in quiz show host mode. As a lone scientist his personality is a tad more sterile – much like his new environment.
Casual gamers who like simple sums and Simon Says will relish this title, as will people who have been yearning for a Brain Training game for the PSP. Gamers wanting something more substantial with a greater deal of similarity to the Buzz! quiz games – and to be honest a bit more fun – would be best to stick to previous titles. Taxing your brain is always more fun with company than by yourself.