We Need a New Buzz Game

I hear the first few notes of music and I think to myself ‘I got this one’.

Arrogantly, I cast derisive glances to my left and right, mocking my opponents, before bullishly raising my Buzz controller, like a sword posed to deliver the coup de gras, and jamming the big red button perched atop it. To my chagrin, and the delight of my competitors, I get the question wrong. In case you’re wondering, the answer to the question was Bucks Fizz, and no I haven’t the faintest idea who that is.

It’s fair to say that pop music isn’t exactly my forte, but that was one of the great strengths of the Buzz series of games, there was something for everybody. From music to sport, even younger gamers were catered for with the Buzz Junior series, literally everyone in the family could pick up a controller and get involved. For example Buzz was the only video game where my mother defeated me. An egregious shame I have not forgotten to this day.

Yes, it lacked the storied variation of a Mario Party, or the sheer physical exuberance experienced while playing a host of Wii titles, but Buzz had one thing none of the above could ever attain. A palpable homely sense of lost Saturday nights spent in front of the television watching 90s trivia game shows.

Launched in 2005 by Relentless Software, on the Playstation 2, Buzz gained traction and caught the eye almost immediately with its bespoke, yet cumbersome game controllers, which were all the more awkward because of the numerous wires needed for such a contraption. By sheer serendipity Buzz had the power to evoke untangling of Christmas lights every time you wanted to play the damn thing.

From the absurdly loveable controllers we come to the game itself, which was designed perfectly, from the loquacious host, the sharply styled Buzz, who was voiced by Jason Donovan (he was big in the 80s apparently) to the varied myriad of character avatars such as a rock guy, a man trapped in the fashion of the 70s, and a black man with an afro, the game worked on every level.

By the end of the Playstation 2’s life Buzz had garnered quite a following thanks in part to a huge console base of 100 million. Then along came the Playstation 3 which proved to be a less accommodating home for the Buzz series. It’s difficult to pin point exactly what went wrong for Buzz on PS3. Speaking in 2011, Relentless Software Co-founder, and the games developer, Andrew Eades, believed the overexposure of Buzz, there were 12 Buzz games released for Playstation 3, along with the pricing of PS3 were the biggest factor in the demise of the series.

Now we come to today’s gaming landscape and the dearth of games like Buzz. Currently That Trivia Game is the solitary representative of game show style party games, and though it gets the job done in an unassuming way, it lacks the polish and big time substance of a Buzz title. Andrew Eades may have stated in the past that Buzz as a series if finished but that isn’t necessarily the case. At the moment Sony owns the Buzz IP, so the mantle falls upon them to decide the ultimate fate of the series. Could Sony develop a new Buzz in house or even sell the IP to another developer? The gaming world has changed greatly since the days of Playstation 2, is there even a market for a game like Buzz anymore?

The fabled Buzz controllers, those that made the game stand out so much, would never work in today’s market. Your bog standard joypad is expensive enough; I wouldn’t even like to guess how much four Buzz controllers would cost on today’s systems. What could make a new Buzz game viable is VR. It may seem like a pedestrian use of virtual reality, and perhaps my desire to see a new Buzz game is clouding my judgement, but imagine popping on some VR headgear and immersing yourself inside the world of Buzz.

You’re inside a fully fledged television studio, to your left, and right are your friends, and fellow contestants. Look there’s Buzz bouncing around on the stage and yes you can take a stroll back into his dressing room to see his pre show debauchery. Is that a mountain of talcum powder or cocaine in front of his mirror (that might explain his unbridled energy)? The bread is too small to make a sandwich with but it won’t affect his performance. Then again maybe none of that sounds enthralling in our modern gaming world. Maybe there’s just no place for a game like Buzz anymore which quite frankly is a terrible shame.

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