For the first two thirds of any parlor game like Trivial Pursuit, I'm terrible. Then – for reasons I'm still not entirely clear on – I'll rock the last third of the game and either place second, or win.
This pattern has repeated itself for most of my life, so I can be reasonably sure that the Sony Computer Entertainment of American representatives demoing the game weren't intentionally losing to me so that I'd have a better opinion of Buzz! Quiz World for the PlayStation 3. However, they did go so far as to purchase pizza and a cooler full of beer for the appointment.
"Hey," they said, "this is how the game is supposed to be played."
But it was a morning appointment, so I abstained from the beverages as the lead SCEA rep gave me a rundown of all the things that are different or better about Quiz World from its other iterations. For one thing, everything is glossier and fancier for the benefit of PS3 graphics. The game show set looks like something straight out of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, plus some pretty nifty stage tricks that ABC probably couldn't provide insurance for in real life (like trapdoors and rising platforms).
For another, the gameplay modes have been expanded and loosened up a bit so that you can customize your own game (playing by time limit or quiz type, etc.) and have a more expansive multiplayer. The old sofa-to-sofa multiplayer mode has been expanded to eight players and as many as four people per "sofa" can participate on one PS3.
Also, all the old downloadable content and quiz packs you bought for Buzz! Quiz TV will work with Quiz show and naturally the controllers will work, too.
Post-rundown, the SCEA rep rounded up some third party PR types for a quick custom game. The character selection process sadly forces you to use a pre-generated name so that the announcer can call you out by name – but I managed to make the most of it by choosing a wacky-looking medieval character that resembled the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The cartoony absurdity of my character combined with his taunt animations almost made up for the fact that I was completely sober.
Then we got down to the game. There are 5000 or more questions in the game total, but the categories in Quiz World have been broken down into even more specific types that change the difficulty of certain quizzes. For example, instead of there just being a catch-all "sports" category, there was a motorsports category that somebody picked – thereby beginning the ancient pattern of AJ starts out sucking.
Nineties music, Musicals and Film, 90s TV and Trends quizzes later, I was ranked completely last among all the PR types. (It's not my fault I couldn't remember anything Jamiroquai did except Virtual Insanity – I just watched a VH-1 special on it!) The announcer had even gone so far as to call me out three times during a round where I'd picked the category. Jerkface Kermit the Frog impersonator!
But then the Final Round – which uses questions from all categories – leveled everything out, literally. Contestant characters were placed on top of moving platforms and every wrong platform sunk you further toward the ground, while every right answer elevated you a little higher. Last one not touching the ground wins – and that happened to be me. Because suddenly, I remembered everything about the 90s. Also, I happened to hit the answer buttons a little faster than everyone else to get more of a boost on the platform.
Post-game, the amusing credits sequence scrolled on by and I was pleased to see myself on there like three times for player who'd answered the most questions wrong, player with the slowest button presses, and as Winner. Too bad they didn't have a credit listing for "Best comeback in the history of Buzz!"
Buzz! Quiz World goes for $40 without the special game show controllers and $60 with. You might think that's a little steep – but the average cost of an adult party game you could buy at Toys ‘R' Us is $30 and at least with Buzz! you can't lose any of the chance cards. Which totally unbalances Monopoly, by the way.
The game is out November 10.