(I’ve written more about these game reviews, which I am slowly adding to my site, here.)
Big Brain Academy
Review – DS
Content Tease: See how your brain ‘weighs up’ in this new release from Nintendo.
Score – Graphics: 5
Score – Gameplay: 7
Score – Sound: 5
Score – Value: 8
Score – Overall: 7
Score Word: Good
Learning Curve: 5 minutes
Big Brain Academy is the latest in the trend of ‘alternative games’ intended to appeal to the non-gamer audience. The main idea of this game is that you work your way through an array of puzzles designed to challenge your brain in different ways, through tests, practice exercises, and multiplayer action, and observe the results as your brain expands! Non-gamers should love Big Brain Academy, though others may find it limited in scope. Once you’ve played through the puzzles several times you’ll probably find you get more enjoyment out of the game when you make use of the multiplayer function.
When you first start up the game, you’re introduced to Dr. Lobe (a squiggle of a man really, who takes every opportunity to tell you how smart he is). He will help to guide you through the registration process. Once that’s covered, you’ll then want to move to the ‘test’ option, where you can find out how ‘big’ your brain is initially. (Don’t worry; it’s an arbitrary measurement. Nothing terrible is going to happen to you as the result of massive brain ballooning.)
I fancy myself a bit of a puzzle freak, so you can imagine my disappointment when I received a C- for my efforts and was told I had the brain of a Museum Curator. I didn’t think that sounded too bad, but from the looks of it, a Museum Curator is right up there with a Rat-Cage Cleaner in Dr. Lobe’s books.
It’s not all over if you’re disgusted with your score, as I was. You also have the option of practicing your skills until you become more proficient at them. Incidentally, I’d be interested to know if mastering some of the 15 types of exercises actually does help you in these areas, or, if as I secretly suspect, you are just training yourself to react to the set scenarios. (Unfortunately such research is beyond the scope of this review.)
The different areas you can practice are divided into five different groups: Think, Memorize, Analyze, Compute and Identify. Each group has three different exercises that you can work your way through – trying to reach a gold medal for each. These exercises are also available at Easy, Medium and Hard levels, which provide an extra challenge, in case you think you’re a bit of a fancy pants for scoring a gold on the easiest level.
So I thought Big Brain Academy was a pretty cute sort of game, though possibly slightly limited in terms of re-playability… until my partner decided to have a go. All of a sudden, things got very interesting. Suddenly this game morphed from a light-hearted romp through braindom, to a gladiatorial battle of wits. (He always thought of himself as a bit of a genius at maths, hah, little did he realise he’s merely a Museum Curator like me!)
In all seriousness, the third element to this game, multiplayer, I believe will prove to provide the most long-lasting gameplay. What’s better is you only need to have one game card to share between up to eight players. Think about it, next time you have a fight in your flat over who is too superior to do the dishes, you can whip out your copy of Big Brain Academy and show your flatmate who’s boss!
All in all, the graphics and sound are nothing special, but the puzzles are neat, and once you’ve mastered them, things can get really interesting…
P.S. This review does have a happy ending…. I worked my way up to “Patent Attorney” with a grand total of a B-! You see, dreams can come true!