McGinnis: Jeff and Jodie’s Holiday Trivia Game Gift GuideWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | email@example.com
- Buzz: Quiz World. Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment. Available for: Playstation 3. Price: $59.99 for full bundle with controllers, $39.99 for game alone
- Scene It?: Bright Lights, Big Screen. Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. Available for: Playstation 3, Wii and Xbox 360. Price: $39.99
Many products are competing for consumers’ hard-earned cash this holiday season. And while those looking for an action/adventure video game have Halo 3: ODST, Uncharted 2 or Super Mario Bros. Wii to lure their gaze, people looking for a more social experience have a couple of new trivia/party games aimed their way — Buzz! Quiz World for the Playstation 3 and Scene It?: Bright Lights, Big Screen for all major consoles.
In order to give these two games a proper test run, I played them with my good friend Jodie Hanf, a fellow quiz game enthusiast who I have faced many times, and who has beaten me more often than I care to admit. We’d played previous editions of both these games before, and now we faced off to determine trivia superiority — and not just between the two games.
We began with Buzz! Quiz World, a Playstation 3 exclusive. The Buzz! Series, a high-energy game show simulator starring an outspoken host that Jodie referred to as “a cartoon Greg Proops,” has been around for years. With the new game, the franchise takes some major steps in presentation and design. “I liked the fact that Buzz! actually looked like a game show — you had an audience, you had a host, you had a stage,” Jodie said.
Among the new elements we noticed immediately was the ability to give your character an actual name that Buzz would call out during play. But here, we ran into some surprising limitations — “Jeff” was there, but despite a large selection to choose from, “Jodie” wasn’t available. She finally settled on a nickname —Sparky.
“‘Sparky’ is in there, but not ‘Jodie?’” she asked, not unreasonably.
When we got into the teeth of the actual game play, though, we had a blast. Buzz! has always been a fun game, and this new edition adds some tweaks to the formula, both major and minor, that improve the whole experience. The sheer number of game play modes is very impressive, the included wireless controllers work great, and setting up a game is easy. There’s a much greater variety of rounds during play, and they’re randomized better so it doesn’t feel like the same thing over and over again.
During our first game, Jodie and I went down to the wire with a close and exciting contest. We actually ended the final round in a dead heat, leading to a final tiebreaker question — which Jodie answered first. Arrgh! Undone by my nemesis yet again! No matter, I thought, I’ll get back at her in our second game of Buzz! Except I didn’t, as she won again. D’oh.
No matter, I had a chance to redeem myself with Scene It?: Bright Lights, Big Screen. This is the third in a series of video games adapting the popular board game to a console, though the first two were exclusive to the Xbox 360. Now, Scene It? has expanded to all major consoles, and the version we were playing was also on my Playstation 3.
Whereas the original Scene It? included buzz-in controllers, none came with this PS3 version. One can either play with your standard controller or, if you have them, the Buzz controllers. Unfortunately, problems arise no matter which is chosen, thanks to some odd design elements. Scene It’s interface also features bland backgrounds and characters —no names at all, here.
Setting up a game is less-than-intuitive as well, and there are a depressingly small number of play options, especially compared to Quiz World. Scene It? also can repeat questions a surprising amount. But the game play itself is still fairly fun, and there are a number of categories so it never feels too repetitive. “I do like the types of games in the Scene It? series,” Jodie said. “Whereas in Buzz there (are games like) hot potato, which I find just aggravating.”
Scene It?’s case is not bolstered by its host, an annoying “director” who introduces each category. While Buzz’s host can be annoying, more often than not he’s entertaining, while Scene It?’s host elicited just one laugh in the two games we played. Luckily, you can turn the director off, though that sometimes leaves you guessing as to how to play a particular category.
In the end, though, not even poor design and a maddening host could keep Jodie from once again thrashing me. She triumphed in both games we played of Bright Lights, Big Screen, though her victory was tempered by how disappointed she was in the gaming experience.
“(Scene It?) seems very cold and very disconnected from what it used to feel like playing,” said Jodie, a big fan of the previous games. “This felt very thrown together.”
“I noticed that with Buzz you can have a lot more players than I thought (up to eight), whereas with Scene It? you can have only four,” Jodie said. She also brought up Buzz!’s wider variety of questions. “I think you can have a lot more people, and not just the number of people, play Buzz…Grandma might be able to play Buzz, even though she might not be able to play Scene It?, since she might not watch a lot of movies.”
These issues don’t even take into account other factors, like the online component available in Buzz!, which not only allows you to play with numerous gamers all over the world, but also to make and share your own quizzes. None of this is available in Scene It?, making it look like an even more inferior product.
When I asked which one she preferred, Jodie quickly responded, “Between those two, Buzz. Which, honestly, having only played the original Scene It? and the original Buzz!, I would have said Scene It?, but between these two, I really did not like the structure and the interface of the new Scene It? on this.”
So we both offered the same recommendation — if you have a Playstation 3, Buzz! Quiz World is definitely the superior product. If you only have a 360, the original Scene It? games are still available, and are pretty cheap if you buy them used. Buying either of them is definitely a better option than the disappointing Bright Lights, Big Screen.
And as far as our competition, all I can say is, I’ll be back, Hanf! You haven’t heard the last of me! (Insert evil cackle here.)