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Big Brain Academy
Platform: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Nintendo of America, Inc.
Developer: Nintendo Co. Ltd.
Style(s): Brain Training
Synopsis: Those who have trained their brain to a healthy age can now test its "weight" in Big Brain Academy, the second title in Nintendo's medley of mental mini-games. The title includes a series of brain-stimulating exercises designed to improve thinking, memorization, computation, analysis, and identification. After taking an initial test to identify cognitive strengths and weaknesses, players will receive a brain weight score that will hopefully increase over time with daily practice in each of the five categories. Academy features a total of 15 mini-games and two play modes: test and practice. Each test involves trying to correctly answer as many questions as possible within a time limit. From that point on, players can practice individual mini-games to win bronze, silver, gold, and platinum medals. All activities utilize the handheld's touch-screen interface, from tapping on objects that weigh the most to drawing lines between two characters. Big Brain Academy also supports up to eight players in a race to see who has the "largest" brain. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Package Contents: Health and Safety Precautions Booklet
The colorful manual briefly explains each category of activity and mini-game along with the multiplayer mode. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Simple yet colorful pictures of shapes, blocks, animals, and symbols in a cartoon-like style. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Nintendo struck a nerve, or at least a frontal lobe, with the release of Brain Age. By expanding its target audience to include an older generation, the publisher created a wave of goodwill toward video games by promoting health benefits instead of depraved violence. Now the company is back with Brain Academy, a game many might confuse as a direct sequel. Sadly, the disembodied head of Dr. Kawashima is nowhere to be found, suggesting this title might not have the scientific street cred to improve cognitive functioning. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why it's so fun... To be fair, Nintendo hasn't abandoned its brain-nourishing philosophy with Academy, but there is no tracking system in place, no daily goals, and no unlockable features to make you look forward to seeing what's new for each play session. Instead we are offered 15 visually stimulating mini-games, some of which are not unlike problems on IQ tests or SATs. Nearly all involve quickly identifying or comparing patterns, whether it's counting blocks within 3D schematics or deciding which group of coins is worth more. The stylus is used throughout to draw lines, tap on numbers, and so forth. All the games are fun and more appealing than Brain Age's activities. Some might also be surprised at how challenging they can be. Those who coast through Brain Age's math problems might stumble in Academy's variant, where the equations are written out in English instead of with numerals and symbols. Brain Academy thus complements Brain Age, touching on areas the first game neglects and wrapping the lessons in a more colorful package. It's still lacking, however. Once you receive the highest medals in each activity, there's no compelling reason to keep playing, making this Academy more an institute of yearning than learning. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Each of the 15 mini-games takes seconds to complete, but not all of them are easy to achieve perfect scores. Up to eight players can compete against each other in an entertaining versus match. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
A slight step up from bleeps and bloops. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The games are not complex, but they are fun and best enjoyed in short doses. More activities certainly would have helped. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.