by Paul Granchelli, Carl & Warren
Strobel, & friends
The Buzzword Game Company
P.O. Box 440747
Aurora, Colo 80044
512K Disk $39.95
It was almost a year ago that I took a look at the 8-bit version of this program. I found it to be a refreshingly new and original word game, one which could be enjoyed by all members of the family. However, the only problem was that not every Atari family could get involved. This has been rectified with the arrival of the ST version of this game.
Buzzword is a word game, plain and simple. There are no fancy graphics, no plunges into outer space. After selecting a catagory (which is chosen from one of the 200 pre-printed cards supplied with the game), players take turns guessing words, given the first letter of the word, the number of letters in the word, and a pool of letters still unused. Points are awarded for correct guesses, deducted for errors. Three levels, from Bright to Gifted, allow all players to compete evenly. But if this were the extent of the complexity of this game, it would quickly be shelved. Fortunately, Buzzword has enough variety to keep your disk drive humming for months to come.
Each category contains up to 50 different answers. Since only nine are used at any one time, chosen randomly with partial dependence on the level of play each time a category is chosen, you can play many times without learning the answers. Each category has been assigned a replayabihty factor as a guide to the number of times it can safely be repeated. And the categories and answers are numerous and diverse enough to interest and challenge everyone. From parlor games to candy bars to Indian tribes, the cards test knowledge in hundreds of areas. A special category, Buzzword connection, challenges you to supply words which naturally follow a given word, such as "red." Answers in this case might be "red carpet" (easy) and "red shift" (hard).
Four basic options combine to create 32 different games. First, singles or doubles can compete. Then, hints may be limited to only the first letter or only the length of the answer, or, for the truly brave, no clues whatsoever. The number of letters in the available letter pool can be displayed or hidden, and a time limit to guess a word can be imposed. But even with all these options, game play is simple. After booting up, you simply select a card, a play level, and the desired options, and then you begin typing in words. Your only problem will be misspelled words and typos. Thus it is desirable to place your best typist and speller at the keyboard.
The game has preserved the screen display used in the 8-bit version with little enhancement, other than the fact that the resolution is somewhat greater. The top right corner of the screen contains the current card, displaying the category and clues, if any. Below that is the letter pool and to the upper left is the scoring area. The bottom left of the display holds a typewriter on which you type your answers.
Documentation consists of a game manual, ST loading instructions, and two decks of game cards. The manual's 24 pages are fully indexed and completely describe game play, while handy charts summarize the 32 play options and the 200 catagories. The decks of playing cards, however, seemed unnecessary and tended to slow play and make it less challenging. Indeed, in testing both the 8-bit and ST versions we have never used the cards extensively, and they seem inspired by the cards used in Trivial Pursuit. However, for those who like the cards, they are well printed and sturdy and provide helpful clues, and, when used as suggested in the manual, create even more variations on the game.
Overall, Buzzword is an original and fun game. It can be played alone or with an unlimited number of people with equal enjoyment, and every member of the family (ages ten to adult) can compete. Whether considered as an entertaining diversion, or as a vocabulary building tool, all owners of Buzzword will find themselves to be winners.