Time was, I'd have rather driven hot needles into my eyes than tackle any kind of quiz – the word 'quiz' was 'exam' in disguise. Nevertheless, with Typhon's take on Sony's Buzz! having taken up a considerable amount of my time this week, either my tastes have changed with age or quizzes have got better. My old self would hate me for saying this but, Buzz! The Mobile Quiz is really rather special.
It's pretty expansive, too. The game's main mode, Quiz Challenge, comes with nine separate rounds, all of which put a slightly different spin on the game's main theme: answering as many questions as you can, as quickly as you can. But all this hangs on two things: the range of questions available, and the simplicity in the way you answer them. Buzz!'s success comes from the fact that it excels in both areas – there simply isn't another mobile quiz out there than pools questions from as many fonts of knowledge as Buzz! The Mobile Quiz does.
All of the quizzes follow the same format: questions come with four possible answers, and all you have to do is tap the number of of the answer you think is right, which always corresponds to the number keys '1'-'4'. Of course, some of the rounds are timed, while others require you to string together a series of correct answers – either way, there's no time to dilly-dally around, and luckily the questions are suitably succinct to enable quick progress.
There's a certain amount of 'borrowing' employed in some of the games. The notion of 'banking' points accumulated in a chain in one of the challenges seemingly taken from The Weakest Link, though its implementation is a deft one, with players able to bank their points mid-question so they can secure all they've earned when they come up against a question that's beyond them. It's a nifty little touch that allows Buzz! to keep its difficulty high without leading its players down a path of needless frustration.
Indeed, frustration never plays its part in Buzz! The Mobile Quiz's proceedings. Rather, developer Typhon has manage to forge together a series of 1,000 questions that provide a genuine challenge while also serving up a fair dose of fun. All nine games take the best elements from numerous quiz shows over the years and present them to the great unwashed on their mobiles. 'Point Risker' is a particular specimen of brilliance, asking players to bet (and therefore risk) points they've already accumulated on a question as of yet unknown.
There's also a dose of Pictionary chucked in for good measure in 'Guess the Picture', though it's sometimes less a case of guessing the picture and more a game of 'spot the most obvious answer'. Regardless, Guess the Picture's challenges are as wide and varied as they are in any of the other games; it's the sheer mix of questions that makes this game a challenge, rather than the level of said questions. You shouldn't be surprised if you're tackling a question about The Beatles one minute and castle portcullises the next.
It's therefore by no means certain that players will find success on their first run-through (Buzz! awarding gold, silver or bronze medals depending on your performance) but the ease of play and general wit will keep you coming back, the game's master of ceremonies, Buzz, wheedling at you whether you're right or wrong. Though you'll come up against questions you've already tackled sooner than later, the quick nature of the game means you'll quite often panic and give the wrong answer anyway.
But you'll forgive yourself, brush yourself off mentally and have another crack. And that's Buzz! The Mobile Quiz's appeal, whether you're playing solo or tackling the game's four-player multiplayer mode. The knowledge that most of your wrong answers are born out of pressure rather than ignorance means you'll keep going back, determined to better your previous score and win that extra medal. If that isn't the sign of a successful title, then I don't know what is. Maybe if you give me four possible answers?