- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2008

A home entertainment room is transformed into a game-show studio with help from Buzz! Quiz TV (Sony Computer Entertainment America and Reckless Software for PlayStation 3, $59.99 requires eight AA batteries). Optimized for Sony’s high-definition gaming console, the latest version of Quiz TV offers wireless control, sharp graphics and a wealth of online options to keep the action fresh.

Up to eight players can take part in the often silly and cerebral fun as they select from five quiz channels and answer more than 5,000 multiple choice questions on topics ranging from music and movies to sports and food.

Hosted by a Buzz, a difficult-to-understand, sarcastic and sadistic Fred Willard muppet, this challenge succeeds with humor and the never-ending stream of trivia.

The game includes four wireless buzzers, each with a big red button and four colored buttons that work as limited controllers. A small battery bank will be needed to keep them fed, but it’s worth the interaction.

After each player selects an onscreen avatar (a collection of caricatures from Napoleon to a mime can be chosen), a personal buzzer sound and name, the work begins with Buzz ready to dole out the questions and insults.

Each contest consists of six rounds, with high scorer having the best chance of winning. I definitely mean “best chance” - the Final Countdown round has contestants stand on pillars of different heights (based on point totals) that slowly sink into the loser’s pit with every incorrect answer.

Much like reality television that often relies on humiliating contestants, Quiz TV has its own brand of torture. In certain rounds, when a contestant answers correctly, he can toss a pie at the loser of his choice, temporarily knocking him out of the game. Or, a ticking bomb can be added to the festivities for a round of “hot potato” trivia. When the bomb explodes, the unlucky handler loses points.

Options to create new, eight-question sets extends the game’s potential as does the ability to use the Eye camera to capture and post victorious poses.

The multiplayer possibilities extend online with the cleverly titled Sofa versus Sofa mode. Anyone connected around the world becomes a challenger in four-player matches - no Google cheating, please.

Learning time: For as silly as the game can be, it does offer a great mix of educational content for the average high school student. Since the 20 topics are customizable, it’s possible to create a contest loaded with questionson, for example, science and technology.

More impressive are the downloadable quiz packs that can be bought online at the PlayStation Network ($5.99 to $7.99 each). Available in 500-question chunks, I would direct gamers to the National Geographic: Safari pack that unleashes the specifics of African wildlife on unsuspecting contestants.

Additionally, gamers around the world post free question sets that cover an even deeper set of disciplines such as Greek mythology, math and chemistry. (Inappropriate content is filtered out, by the way.)

This type of community knowledge base provides an unlimited resource for home-schoolers and educators to make learning fun.

Age range: Geared toward teens and older players, some of the humor is a bit harsh and the occasional bomb explosion is as violent as a scene from a Tex Avery cartoon. The T for teen rating is justified, but the sophisticated tween playing with his parents won’t be traumatized.

Final advice: Buzz! Quiz TV works great in a party atmosphere, as a hands-on activity for the competitive family and as a clever teaching tool.

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