Buzz! Brain of the UK PSP
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developed by: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
We've already looked at the PlayStation 3 version of Buzz! Brain of the UK and it has to be said that it was a big disappointment. Here we have the PSP version of the game and it certainly is a more pleasant experience. The ability to play with up to five friends and a more satisfying single player experience makes this our preferred version of the game. However, there are still major problems for deaf gamers.
The single-player mode in Brain of the UK is called Solo Quiz Challenge. The mode offers fifteen challenges for you to complete. The idea is to try and earn a gold medal for each of the challenges. Initially only three of the challenges are unlocked but as you earn at least a bronze medal, which actually isn't that difficult, additional challenges will become available. The challenges are interesting and varied. One of them requires you to answer fifteen questions on movies and TV whilst another throws ten virus picture questions at you. The virus picture questions are actually quite devious. You are shown a pixelated image that slowly comes into focus. The quicker you answer the question, the more points you earn. The nasty part however, is that your current points total is being eaten away as you're waiting for the image to come into focus. It's actually quite possible to finish with a minus score. As an extra incentive to play through the challenges, there are some special trophies that you can earn. You'll earn these for such things as answering ten questions in a row correctly and answering a question in less than a second.
There may be no support for playing Brain of the UK online, but the game does allow up to six players to compete against each other in two different modes. In Quiz Host the host will hold the PSP and ask the questions to the contestants. The host also awards the points to the player who answers correctly. In this mode then the PSP effectively acts as the question card and a scoreboard. In Pass Around you get to choose from three difficulty levels and whether to play a Full, Quick or Custom Game (which lets you choose the rounds you want to play). The different round types are Picture This, Rollover, Pass the Bomb, Weak Spot, Virus and Snapshot. Players take it in turns answering the questions with messages informing the player of whom they should pass the PSP to next.
On the whole Brain of the UK works well and it's great that up to six players can enjoy the experience with just one PSP and a single copy of the game. There are no Buzz! controllers here of course but each of the four possible answers are assigned to the triangle, square, circle and X buttons. The presentation of the game is mostly fine and graphically it's almost on a par with previous Buzz! games. It could be argued that some of the load times are rather on the long side but they are never so long that they begin to test your patience.
Unfortunately, Buzz! Brain of the UK on the PSP is just as poor for deaf gamers as previous games in the series. Buzz's comments are not subtitled so you'll miss out on all of his rather weak attempts at being humorous. Thankfully all of the questions are subtitled and all of the possible answers are shown in text. There are problems with some of the questions however as they rely on the ability to hear. One question for instance was a movie clip of a man watching a TV program. You had to say what program the man was watching on TV. Obviously, hearing gamers will be able to hear the program (it wasn't possible to see the TV in case you're wondering) and answer the question without any problems but this is one of the questions where deaf gamers are simply in the dark and have to rely on taking a lucky guess at the answer. It's also debatable as to how deaf gamer friendly the Quiz Host mode is. You can't simply show the contestants the question on the PSP screen as the correct answer is highlighted (because it's supposed to be for the host's eyes only). On the whole it's disappointment again for those wanting a deaf gamer friendly Buzz! title.
There's a lot to like in the PSP version of Buzz! Brain of the UK. I enjoyed the Solo Quiz Challenge and the ability to play with five others with just a single copy of the game. The problem is however that it's still a game that can't be recommended to deaf gamers for the reasons mentioned in the above paragraph. This is a crying shame and but we can hope that one day there will be a Buzz! game that isn't a poor experience for deaf gamers.