Big Brain Academy
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-08-20 Nintendo DS Mini-games E (Everyone) Nintendo Software Technology Corp.

The first time I picked up Big Brain Academy and played it, I didn't put it down for at least three hours. It all started with the test, and my brain weighing an interesting 1010 grams. My evaluation stated (in not so harsh words) that I sucked at thinking, was doing exceptionally at memorizing, and not so bad analyzing, identifying and computing. What does all this mean? Keep on reading and find out.

Big Brain Academy falls under the educational type of games. A bit like Brain Age, this Touch Generations title lets you exercise your brain to improve your overall mental performance. What sets it apart of Brain Age is that its mini-games are more varied, offering a variety of colors and shapes, and they're a lot more entertaining to do.

The activities in Big Brain Academy will test your brain in five specific areas: thinking, memorizing, computing, analyzing and identifying. You begin by doing the initial test to see how your brain fares in these areas. Doctor Lobe, your strange little host, will then tell you how much your brain weighs, what career type or historic personality you correspond to, as well as giving you a grade on a scale of F to A+. You then move on to the Practice tests to improve your abilities.

Results are calculated by the amount of questions you answer within a time limit, and how many correct answers you give. In Practice exercises, you are given medals (Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze) according to your results. Doctor Lobe also makes you go over the wrong questions at the end until you get the right answers.

The game has a total of 15 activities, three for each category of "brain testing", and three levels of difficulty for each.

In the Think area, you have:
- Heavyweight, where you guess which object is heavier by looking at a series of scales;
- Pathfinder, where you must draw a single line that will make the top animal find the bottom one;
- Bone Yard, which I find particularly complicated, involves placing a bone on the square the dog will eventually move to on the grid.

In the Memorize area (my personal favorite), you can find:
- Sound Bites, a memory game to play the sounds in the order you hear them;
- Memo-Random where you look at the top row and then find the respective panel when one is covered;
- Flash Memory, where a series of numbers and symbols appear on the top screen and you have to repeat them on the bottom screen.

The mini-games in Analyze include:
- Missing Link, a connect-the-dots type of game that makes you match the top image with the bottom one, sometimes rotating or inverting it;
- Cube Game, where you have to count all the blocks in the image;
- Animal Lines, which gives you a pattern on the top screen that you must trace on the bottom screen.

Computing involves:
- Coin-Parison, with a series of coins in two panels to pick the highest amount of money;
- Written Math, where problems are given in text and you solve them by inputting the number;
- Add Agency, which shows you a number of objects on the top screen and you must match the total on the bottom screen.

The Identify activities (another of my favorites) are:
- Shadow Shift, where you must match the rotating, spinning and sliding shadows to the objects below;
- Matchmaker, an easy find-the-pair game;
- Get In Shape, which gives you a bunch of geometric shapes to put together and form a certain image.

As you complete these games, your progress begins to show in the pentagram display. Your objective is to improve on the areas you are not so good at and try to equalize all sides of the pentagram for a "balanced" brain.

Multiplayer feature is also available for versus competition with up to eight players. The goal is to see who reaches a brain weight of 300 grams first by completing random activities. You can change the goal weight and have the option to turn a timer on or off.

Granted, it won't take too long for you to play all the mini-games, and the replay value exists only if you want to keep trying to improve your skills and beat your previous scores. I only wish that this title would track your progress in the same fashion Brain Age does, but the only tracking available is in the form of a high score (brain weight and medal) for each test.

Other than that, Big Brain Academy is one of those games for everyone. Its colorful presentation and fun, light-hearted games make sure it appeals to people of all ages. It's very simple to learn and requires only the use of the stylus.

With this and Brain Age, I'm well on my way to make my brain younger and heavier. Who knows, maybe on the long run I can even become a genius!


Special thanks to Allison Guillen and Nintendo for providing a copy of this title.