Update 16th August 2009: I have received feedback from the developer. Please see the end of this post! Buzzer! Music Quiz Price: $0.99 / £0.59 Version: 1.0 iTunes Store Link: Click here Developer: Richard Shearman Game Site: BuzzerApp.com About Buzzer!: Buzzer! is a music quiz App for the iPhone & iPod Touch, that tests your music knowledge of your own music library. It's quite similar to 'Music Quiz' on the iPod Nano, but a bit more souped-up with snazzy graphics and different rounds. The entire app appears to have been programmed entirely by one person (Richard Shearman), and Graphic Design by Will Parr. It has a professional appearance and is certainly visually pleasing. Gameplay: The Buzzer! gameplay is really simple. I'll walk you through it with a few screenshots... Please Register or Log in to view images The game begins with the menu screen. As you can see, the graphics are appealing, bright and colourful. I really like the style, although I don't know if others would agree. The menu screen is really simple, with just four clear options: Options, Play Solo, Versus & High Scores. We'll start a new Solo game. Please Register or Log in to view images When we begin, we are asked to input a name, select the game type, and choose the buzzer we want. There are 4 different game types: Short, Medium, Long & Custom. Short has 7 rounds, 3 questions per round. It takes about 5 minutes to play. Medium is 7 rounds, 6 questions per round, and Long 7 rounds, 9 questions per round. The Custom options lets you choose which rounds to play and how many questions in each type. The Custom round format is good, but not terribly efficient on the High Score board, simply because different round lengths will obviously generate different high scores. Once we've put in a name and Game Type, we have to choose a Buzzer sound. This bit I'm not terribly impressed with. There are quite a few sounds to choose from, however most of them give me a headache when listening with headphones. Some are funny, others are abstract, and others are just plain weird. For me, the best sound is 'Whip' because it's short and relatively quiet, however other sounds are loud and annoying (try listening to 'Laugh' every time you answer a question... ) Clicking 'Play' begins the game. For these screenshots, I'm on 'Short' game type. Round 1: Guess the Intro Please Register or Log in to view images Round 1 is called 'Guess the Intro', self explanatory methinks. It simply plays you the beginning of a random song in your library, and you have to guess which one it is. The first 20 seconds or so are played, before the round times out and you lose 500 points... better be quick! The faster you are, the more points you get, with a maximum of about 1250 I think. The little orange guy's face 'rotates' (the orange bit inside him) like a clock. When it drains empty, your time is up. When you click on the answer you think it is, all the answers will fade out and the correct answer will be displayed in bold. On criticism is sometimes it's not very clear at first glance which answer is correct. Perhaps if the other answers slide out of the screen it would be a bit more clear. Once the corect answer is displayed, you'll receive an amount of points depending on how quick you answered (or lose them if it was wrong!). The orange man's face then spins round in reverse, and Buzzer! plays you around 5 seconds of the correct track to give you a little taster. I like this feature, and in the Options menu you can adjust how long the taster is. You can see from my screenshot I failed terribly. Leaving me with -40 points, woohoo! Next round... Round 2: Guess the Album Guess the album round is very similar to the Guess the Intro round, you simply listen to an excerpt from around the middle of the song and guess which Album it's from. Same rules apply, the faster you are, the more points you get (or lose if you're wrong). Afterwards you'll hear a 5-ish second taster from one of the album's tracks. I'm sorry I can't provide a screenshot from every round, but I'm limited to 10 screenshots per post... Round 3: Guess the Album Art This round's my favourite, I think it's well executed. I'm sure you've all seen those gameshows on TV where they show a close-up image, and spin it round, zooming out? That's how Guess The Album Art works... It displays an incredibly close up Album Art image. It spins round and zooms out. Please Register or Log in to view images The faster you guess, the more points you get (you know the drill by now). Over about 20 seconds, the album art spins outwards becoming slowly more clearer... after about 10 seconds of spinning, it'll look something like this... Please Register or Log in to view images The album in question is 'The Back Room' by The Editors... the artwork continues to spin out until it fits into the Orange Man's speech bubble, by which time you lose a whole loada points for not guessing at all... Round 4: Guess the Genre This round is one of the hardest. Some tracks are really clear, other's aren't. Especially on those 'Rock/Pop' tracks, it's often hard to guess which Genre, but if you know your music library well this might be a bit easier. My problem is, I have very varied music tastes, I honestly like a bit of everything... Making it sometimes really easy, and sometimes really hard. For example, if Beethoven is playing, I'll clearly know which genre it is. However, if I just liked Rap music, it could be harder to guess the genre if my entire library was Rap & RnB or whatever. So the question difficulty varies on this round, although more often than not the questions are hard. When each round is over, Buzzer! will give you a little assessment, a bit like the one below: Please Register or Log in to view images Hey, aren't they nice?! Round 6: Guess the Association You're beginning to guess the pattern by now. Buzzer! displays 4 random choices. Just choose the Association to the track. Does that make sense? It'll generate 4 options, which could be Genre, Artist, Song Title, whatever, you just have to choose which one is associated to the track that's being played. Round 7: Random Round There's no need for a screenie of this round. It generates random questions from any of the other rounds. I like this one, a bit of variety! Game Over! When all the rounds are done, Buzzer! displays a little random tip for next time ("Try a bit harder!" kind of thing). It tells you your total score and rank on the leaderboard (I did so well. Minus 1042 points ) Two Player: Versus Mode I love this feature! Two Player or 'Versus' mode lets you challenge a friend. You both choose a name, length, and a Buzzer each. Please Register or Log in to view images When the game begins, the answer is split in two. Jack is playing on the left, Timmy on the right. Please Register or Log in to view images This screenshot above shows that Timmy has chosen his answer. Once he's picked it, his side goes blank, leaving Jack to choose his answer. Once both players have chosen their answer, the correct answer is revealed, and points are rewarded or deducted. I like the split screen view, however I think it could be better if it was perhaps an upside-down type of view... like in TapTap 2's Two-Player mode, where each player plays on opposite sides of the iPod. High Scores Please Register or Log in to view images The High Scores show how well you've done in each different Game Length. The first 3 are highlighted with Bronze, Silver and Gold. If you used Sound FX (which I'll explain next) then an 'FX' icon is displayed by your high score. SoundFX This is probably one of Buzzer!'s best features. SoundFX. Nope, not little sound effects as you know them. By turning on the SoundFX option, Buzzer will randomly distort tracks as they're played. This makes it harder to guess easy tracks, and is a great addition to the game. The distortion sounds range from light-to-heavy distortion. Things like kind of underwater-soundingey effects are played, leaving you struggling to guess the track. I love this feature, however it would be good to be able to choose different distortion values (i.e. Strong, Weak) on the options menu. There is also 4 different music playback options. These are Normal Speed, Fast-Forward, Fast-Rewind, and Shuffle. They let you adjust how you hear the music in game. I like this for a bit of variety. Working out what song it is on whilst listening in Fast-Rewind is tricky stuff! Options Please Register or Log in to view images You can adjust in-game options from the Options menu. Question Duration modifies how long you have to guess an answer. Pause Between Questions is how long you have to listen to the song Taster after answering. Enable SoundFX turns SoundFX on or off. Choose Your Playlist lets you select a playlist for Buzzer! to choose tracks from. Miscellaneous Criticism OK, here's where I get to rant constructively. I have a very varied music choice on my iPod Touch. This makes Buzzer way too easy - since I have so many different genres Buzzer's questions become easy to guess (for example, if a Rock tune is playing, I'll know it won't be Beethoven). So my first suggestion would be to perhaps implement a 'Hard Mode'. For example, it should be that Buzzer only provides answers from the same Genre as the actual answer (does that make sense?!). If a rock band are playing, only show other rock bands as potential answers. This will make identifying the band harder from other similar artists. My second suggestion is similar, to do with the Guess the Album round. Perhaps if a user has 3 albums by the chosen artist, display all those 3? This way once the user has identified the song's artist, they then need to identify which one of the artist's albums it came from (I hope that makes sense too!). Ratings: Key: 10 Unrivalled 9 Excellent 8 Great 7 Good 6 Fair 5 Average 4 Weak 3 Bad 2 Awful 1 Atrocious 0 n/a Presentation & Graphics: 8 I thought the graphics were very smooth and well laid out. They were colourful and appealing, however there is room for one or two improvements (highlighting answers, as I mentioned). Otherwise it's got beautiful graphics, well designed and professional. Audio: 6 Note: I'm rating the sound effects here, not the audio played from my library or whatever. The sound effects were mostly bad. There's room for some much more audibly-pleasing sound effects, rather than ear splitting 'UFO' noises that sound like The Mosquito Noise Edit: I've bumped this up to a 6, taking into account the "SoundFX" feature - I felt this was really cool, but other than SoundFX and Buzzers, there's not really a lot I can take into account Audio-wise. Gameplay/Controls: 8 A great game to handle here. It's so simple that it's really hard to rate it, actually, just four buttons to choose from! I gave it 8 because I think Two-Player mode could be laid out a bit better, since there's not much room for two people's thumbs. Replay Value: 9 It's the sort of game that brings you back again and again to beat your high score. And the possibilities are endless - just download more music and you have a whole new game on your hands! It's an addictive game that I've been playing with all day. Value for Money: 9 A similar game is available free on iPod Nanos - in fact I'm sort of surprised Apple didn't include anything similar on their iPod Touches. But for less than a dollar, this game has kept me amused for hours. No complaints here, it's charged the cheapest possible amount in the App store, I think it's worth it. I haven't found any similar apps that are nearly as good. Overall Rating: 8 It would have scored a lot higher if it weren't for the painful Buzzer noises provided. Even a few simple 'Ding's would suffice. But consider this an 8. The buzzer sounds don't really play a big enough part in the game to bring down the score that unfairly. Hey, I'm just sticking to the MR Team's system here! Hope you enjoyed the review! ~ Jack UPDATES FROM DEVELOPER: 16th August 2009 I contacted Richard, the developer, about my Miscellaneous Criticisms (essentially, the answers are too varied). Here is his response: Hope that helps some of you!