kowbrainz's Big Brain Academy (Nintendo DS) review

I'll train my brain elsewhere, thank-you.

Big Brain Academy is a cash-in on the casual market, more specifically the market that accepted Dr Kawashima's Brain Training, or Brain Age, with open arms. It features a collection of minigames advertised to train your brain, although it’s never quite certain just how you’re training as there’s no real science behind the games like there was in Brain Age. It all feels a little bit cheap, and in the end it’s probably worth your while to stay away.

The game splits your training into five categories – Think, Memorise, Analyse, Compute and Identify. There’s a total of three minigames per category – fifteen minigames in all. This would be okay, but the level of depth for each game is extremely basic and the lack of variety starts to get boring quite quickly. The types of games themselves aren't all that exciting either, asking you to see which hand holds the highest value in coins, or identfying which objects fit the moving silhouettes on the top screen. None of it is too stimulating so it never really feels like you're achieving much after a test in the game.

The game involves a test players can take to see how good their brain functions are, but it’s a little odd in the way Brain Academy scales you. The better you are in challenges, the more weight is added to your brain’s total. Then once your brain’s total weight is found after completing five minigames, one chosen at random from each of the five categories, you’ll get a grading. Obviously you’ll be aiming towards achieving an A+ score, but there’s no way to track your progress with any of the spiffy graphs Brain Age had, and the way the game scales you on the weight of your brain removes all credibility the game could have had if it was going to try and match the scientific approach of Brain Age. The only other features I can really mention are a versus mode and DS download, but I can see these aren’t going to be too popular given the game’s mediocrity. It’s easy to tell that the overall package is seriously lacking.

Visually, the game is alright. There’s a certain cartoony style it manages to maintain consistently, however that isn’t to say it’s really noticeable and there isn’t anything that really tells me much effort was invested. Music-wise there’s not much to comment about – it keeps quiet and low enough to allow you to think when you need to, but again isn’t anything special.

To summarise: Big Brain Academy is a cash-in on a well established name. I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again. The fact that customers are able to be lured into shovelware like this without knowing any better is really unfortunate, and I feel really annoyed that this isn’t the only one of these sorts of games which is plaguing the market today. If you’re looking for a game to test your brain, have a look at Brain Age or its sequel – don’t waste your time with this.

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