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“Big Brain Academy” DS Review

Hey, Frayed Wire readers! This is a review Josh made on his old site, but is now being moved here!

I recently have been hooked on a DS game called “Big Brain Academy”. It was obviously inspired by the popular “Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day”, which follows a similar concept. Both games have you do a variety of activities that measure how smart you are. Supposedly if you do the games each day, you will get smarter and smarter.

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Brain Age had measured smartness through your “Brain Age”. If you weren’t so smart, you would have the brain of a senile old geezer – something in the 90’s, maybe. Smarter people might have had a Brain Age of 40 or so, but they still had lots of room for improvement. The ideal Brain Age – the smartest you could get – was 20.

Big Brain Academy is similar in the fact that you go through a number of activities to see how smart you are, but there are a number of differences to set it apart from Brain Age. For one thing, Big Brain Academy has a bizarre, simplistic style. All the people in this game are little more than blobs, and the main professor guy – Dr. Lobe – is just as odd. He too is a blob (almost shaped like a keyhole), with one visible arm coming out of his waistline that holds a sloppily drawn line (a pointer, I guess). He has a hat that’s colored in, but not all the way, glasses (two circles with a line connecting them) and a mustache scribbled on. But strangest of all, he always stands on a weird scale thing – or is it a clock? Who knows?

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(This is a picture of Dr. Lobe from the Wii Big Brain Academy)

Also, Big Brain Academy measures you smartness on how heavy your brain supposedly is. The problem with this though, is that you could take the game’s test multiple times and get brain weights that greatly vary. I have a hard time believing that my brain loses and gains weight so much everyday……so your brain weight is really more of a score than an accurate reading.

The activities themselves are kind of hit and miss. One has you quickly count a 3-dimensional stack of blocks (with some hidden from view), another has you look at moving shadows and tap the pictures that should fill them up, and one tells you to look at animals on a series of balances and scales and use your reasoning abilities to tell which animal is the heaviest. Some are easier than others, and because of that, your brain weight result at the end of the main test can be kind of random. You see, there are 5 categories that you’re tested on – Think, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Identify. For each category, there are 3 activities. When you take the test (the game’s main mode), you do 5 activities, one from each category. If you’re lucky enough to get 5 activities you’re good at, you brain weight will be heavier and better. But you could also get stuck with 5 activities that you don’t like so much, and your end result will be a lower brain weight, all because of the activities you had to do.

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In the end, this game is surprisingly addictive and interesting. It’s awfully shallow though, so make sure it isn’t your only DS game. Apparently, it was popular enough to have a board game (yes, you read that right) and a sequel made. The sequel is Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, which actually came quite recently. I might look into it, but I’m not sure I’ll buy it. Like I said, the DS game is awfully shallow. It only has 3 modes – Test (5 activities then your brain weight is revealed), Practice (practice all 15 activities and earn medals based on your performance), and Versus (compete with others to see who has the biggest brain). The game’s main mode – Test – only takes about 5 minutes, and you can only practice the activities for so long until you get tired of them. I haven’t really done Versus made that much, so I can’t honestly say how that is.

The game’s addictive because it always makes you want to strive for a higher score. When you select a file right when you start up the game, you see the name of the player and their grade right next to it (when you see your brain weight after the test, Dr. Lobe also gives you a letter grade). It’s embarrassing to see your sibling with a higher score than you, so you’ll want to do the best you can each time on the test.

Another thing that makes Big Brain Academy so interesting is how it tells you the kind of brain you have – a waiter’s, a lawyer’s, a doctor’s, a janitor’s, etc. I saw in an interview that the game’s developers actually asked people of certain occupations to take the test. The scores they got were then put into the game, so the player can see the type of brain they actually have.

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I’d say this game’s worth a look, and it’s a reasonable purchase for $20. I said earlier that I probably wouldn’t buy the Wii game, but that’s really only because of the price. I doubt that game has a whole lot more depth than this one, so for $50 I’m thinking that there’s no way. (Although I have read some good reviews on it…)

Final Score: 6 out of 10

By Josh60502

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