Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Buzz: The Hollywood Quiz & Singstar 90's (PS2) 

Mainstream titles like Singstar and Buzz usually get a bad rap from hardcore gamers, who think their accessible gameplay and party feel make them inferior to the more complicated intense games on the market. However, both of these series prove, with their latest iterations that they're appeal to the casual gamer is due to the sheer fun and entertainment value they provide. Of course, these games offer some interesting ideas here and they but they stay very true to the expected formula that have made them so successful. Join us as we examine these 'casual' titles and discover why they're so much fun.

Taking another foray into its humorous quiz-show satire series, Sony's Buzz: The Hollywood Quiz for the Playstation 2 brings the same quirky sensibility to movie trivia. Players will find a familiar look and feel to the game with some interesting modes of play thrown in to keep things intersting. Judging by the success of the first Buzz title, this looks to follow in the same footsteps, so most players should know exactly what to expect. You'll still see our host Buzz, who looks suspiciously like Drew Carey and his lovely assistant at the beginning of the game and from there things go about as you'd expect. This time, however there's a movie theme which is complimented by an array of interesting film clips and stills that make the multimedia experience more enjoyable to watch. Most of the clips look fairly nice and uncompressed, making the experience feel very fluid. As you'd expect, this latest title in the game show franchise allows up to eight players to compete in a variety of trivia games using the included Buzzer controllers. These are nice in construction and very easy to use and understand, with four answer buttons with a large buzzer on top. They connect easily using the USB port, which makes for quick set ups and break-downs. Players can make themselves into any of several different characters and compete against each other in a variety of different question rounds.

These rounds are varied and somewhat interesting with the main quiz consisting of a timed mode, where you have to answer the question before the timer runs out, a fastest finger where you are shown something and have to describe it quickly. There's also a mode called Top Rank where you have to put the correct answers in the proper order. Finally, there's a pie fight mode where the contestants can fling pies at each other and the one who survives the longest wins. Once you have finished the main game, you can then compete in the bonus Hot Seat stage where you have to answer questions quickly before the timer runs out, which isn't as hard as it sounds, though there is some challenge. You can build up your bonus time by winning rounds in the main game, which increases your chances of winning the grand prize. Buzz isn't too terribly complicated and the choice of adjusting your questions level of difficulty and tailoring your quiz to your specified topics such as movie stars or directors makes things more fun. Most of the questions should be fairly easy for anyone familiar with the movies, though there are some harder ones that show up from time to time. The pacing is relatively quick and things are relatively straightforward so most players should have little trouble getting through the rounds. The game's visuals are fairly decent and the animated host and contestants are fun to watch. Buzz definitely has a great sense of humor going for it and while it's enjoyable solo, it has been designed as a party game and this is where it really shines, its loads of fun to compete against friends and the buzzers themselves make you feel like you're on an actual quiz show, which makes the gameplay all the more enjoyable. While Buzz - The Hollywood Quiz probably won't win any awards for originality, it's still an entertaining diversion that delivers exactly what you expect.

When you and your friends get tired of answering trivia questions, you can move on and get some Karoake action with Singstar 90's, the latest music title from SCEA, also for the PS2. This installment doesn't change much of its familiar formula either, and brings in the traditional style of play to a more recent decade, after the recent 80's and hard rock installments. This installment brings with it a variety of tracks from popular artists including Arrested Development, MC Hammer, Len, Boyz II Men, Soundgarden, The Cranberries, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots and even Vanilla Ice. Ironically enough, there's also a track from Paula Abdul, who is now hosting American Idol, to which Singstar owes at least a little debt. There are thirty different tracks included and these range from pop to R&B and grunge, which gives it a great deal of variety in terms of style and pacing. As you'd expect, there are several modes of play where you can either sing along solo or against a friend. Each note is closely monitored by the game and you win points for staying true to the tone and pitch of each song, though you can trick the game and don't have to remember all the lyrics exactly. You can also compete against a friend to see who is better at recreating these famous songs. Singstar's main claim to fame is that instead of listening to generic cover versions of these tracks, you get to see the actual music videos while you sing. This gives the game an authenticity some other music titles on the market lack, and while the videos themselves look somewhat dated these days, they are presented in enough of a high quality level to be more than acceptable when playing at a party or some other social situation. In another interesting twist in this version, you can also use the PS2's Eye Toy camera to film yourself while you sing, which can be either thrilling or embarrassing depending on your level of skill. The game itself is fairly easy to understand and the menus and options are fairly straightforward, most players should have little trouble getting the hang of things quickly, with the onscreen bars and lyrics making the game easy an accessible for everyone including novice singers and experts. Singstar 90's doesn't offer many innovations in the formula, but it doesn't need to. It delivers a decent experience that brings an accessible, fun feel aimed at a broad audience. Singstar 90's and Buzz - The Hollywood Quiz share an accessible approach and an appealing sensibility that should make them fit in with the PS2's other mass market titles. Both of these games are decent enough and provide hours of casual, party style fun that should appeal to players of all ages and abilities.

- Michael Palisano

Grade: C+

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