Buzz! Junior: Monster Rumble PlayStation 2
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: FreeStyleGames Ltd & Magenta Software Ltd
Release Date: Out Now
The Buzz! Junior games have been around for a few years now and whilst they have been primarily aimed at younger gamers, they have proved to be good fun for every member of the family. The games are essentially a collection of themed mini-games. To date we’ve had Buzz! Junior: RoboJam, Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party and now it’s time for Buzz! Junior: Monster Rumble, a mini-game collection that uses the monster theme in a very light-hearted and child-friendly way.
As we’ve said many times before, any games that are essentially a collection of mini-games are only as good as the mini-games they consist of. In this respect Monster Rumble hits the spot. Monster Rumble consists of 25 mini-games and most of these are quite enjoyable. As you probably know, the Buzz! Junior games all use the simplistic Buzz! controllers so all of the mini-games are easily controlled requiring no more than a press of one of the five large buttons at a time. There are some fun games here such as All Wrapped Up, a game that requires each player to unwrap a mummy. The mummy has coloured bandages and you have to press the matching coloured button to unwrap a layer of bandages. There’s a baseball style game in the shape of Pumpkin Catching, a rhythm based game called Rock Monsters and a game called Feeding Time that requires you to feed the fish but avoid feeding the sharks.
Monster Rumble allows you to play short, medium, long and marathon games. Whichever you pick determines the amount of mini-games you’ll play. A medium game for instance consists of ten mini-games and should take around 30-40 minutes to complete. You can also play a custom game where you decide what games to play and you can also practice any of the 25 mini-games as much as you want to in the Practice mode. The games can be played as a single player game but it’s far more interesting when playing with up to three friends. Easy, normal or hard CPU opponents can fill in the gaps if you have less than four players. Each player will get to customise the look of their monster avatar, although the customisations are purely aesthetic and have no bearing on the game.
Previous Buzz! Junior titles have been presented very well and Monster Rumble continues this trend. As the game is primarily aimed at young children it’s no surprise to see that the game has a bright and cheerful look to it that manages to make the monster theme of the game seem as welcoming as it could possibly be. Unfortunately, Monster Rumble is as poor as the previous Buzz! Junior titles in regards to its deaf gamer friendliness. There are no subtitles in the game at all. Even the descriptions of how to play the game are verbal only. A short movie clip plays showing what has to be done and a small controller icon is displayed on the bottom left of the screen to show what buttons are being pressed. In truth though, deaf gamers will find these rather hit and miss and the first time you play a game it’s a good chance you won’t be fully aware of what needs to be done. You could enter the Practice mode and play your way through each game figuring out what needs to be done which is one way around the problem but in all honesty it’s a little unfair. There’s a game called Musical Chairs where the monsters walk around until the music stops and then the idea is to press the appropriate coloured button to jump onto the remaining chairs. Deaf gamers will struggle to some extent with this game as hearing gamers will know as soon as the music stops where as deaf gamers will probably only realise this after everyone else has stopped still.
Buzz! Junior Monster Rumble is the third game in the child friendly series and it’s a game that’s very much in keeping with the quality of both RoboJam and Jungle Party. Disappointingly there still hasn’t been any consideration shown to deaf gamers and whilst the game isn’t impossible for deaf gamers to play, some of the games will be a little baffling until you’ve worked out what needs to be done. It’s a sorry state of affairs and takes the gloss off what is an enjoyable experience for younger gamers.