Buzz! Junior: RoboJam PlayStation 2
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Magenta Software
Release Date: Out Now
Whilst the Buzz! controller was originally designed for playing the Buzz! quiz games, Sony have proved that the controller can be effectively used for other types of games. The Buzz! Junior series makes great use of the controller in that it allows younger gamers to play mini-games without having to put up with the comparative complexity of a standard controller. We were quite impressed with Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party and it fully deserved its 8 out of 10 rating. Indeed the one disappointment we had with the game was that it wasn't subtitled meaning that younger deaf gamers couldn't enjoy it in the same way that younger hearing gamers could. Let's hope that younger deaf gamers are better served with the latest Buzz! Junior title, Buzz! Junior: RoboJam.
If you've played Jungle Party or indeed any of the Buzz! games you'll be familiar with the game modes on offer. From the main menu you can either choose Standard Game, Custom Game or Practice. Standard Game allows you to either jump into a game with the settings chosen for you or you can choose to setup the game yourself choosing from a Short, Medium, Long or Marathon game where the Short game gives you a few games to play and the Marathon game requires you to play over 20 games. Prior to starting the game you'll get to input your name and customise the look of your robot. The customisation options are limited to simply choosing your preferred head and body parts. Custom Game is very similar to the Standard Game, only it allows you to pick what mini-games you prefer. Practice simply allows you to practice a mini-game of your choice.
Naturally, Buzz! Junior: RoboJam is filled with robot flavoured mini-games. Of course any mini-game compilation is only as good as the mini-games it contains and RoboJam doesn't disappoint. All of the games are intuitive and kids will love them for their simplicity. Games such as Pillow Fight (where the room goes dark and suddenly a light comes on and you have to press the coloured button that matches the colour of the robot that your robot is standing next to in order to whack them with a pillow, before they whack your robot) are typical of the simple pleasures that are on offer here. There is a cheeky sense of humour about most of the games that younger gamers will appreciate. If I have one complaint it's that some of the games here simply felt like reused ones from last year's Jungle Party, albeit with a robot theme.
RoboJam employs the same colourful look that Jungle Party used so well. The characters are large and easy on the eyes and the mini-games have all been presented in a pleasing manner. You couldn't really argue that the game looks particularly impressive but then again it doesn't need to and the look of the game is perfectly suited to the younger gamer who values clear and cheerful visuals over technical graphical excellence.
We could just copy and paste the major complaint with Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party because, unfortunately, it's also our main complaint with Buzz! Junior RoboJam. Once again there are no subtitles and deaf gamers are going to be oblivious to all of the speech that is spoken whilst you're navigating the menus, the mini-game descriptions and the speech spoken whilst playing the mini-games. Due to the nature of the mini-games and how intuitive they are it's not as big a problem as it might have been but it's very disappointing that we are still complaining about the lack of support for younger deaf gamers when we complained about the same thing in the previous game around eight months ago.
As an overall package Buzz! Junior: RoboJam manages to achieve its aims quite nicely. Like Jungle Party before it, it's a game that has instant appeal for younger gamers and the mini-games are intuitive to play. Some of the games look like they are simply the RoboJam variety of those that appeared in Jungle Party but for the most part this is forgivable as the games are so enjoyable. It's unfortunate there has been no improvement in the support for deaf gamers with RoboJam. I'm pretty sure the Buzz! games are here to stay given their appeal and it would be great if the developers could manage to subtitle future releases to allow deaf fans of the Buzz! and Buzz! Junior series to fully enjoy them.
Buzz! Junior: RoboJam is an enjoyable game for younger gamers and there are some quality mini-games here. However it's just as poor for younger deaf gamers as Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party which is very disappointing.