(WiiWare)

Brain Challenge (WiiWare)

Game Review

Brain Challenge Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sammy Barker

It's time to dust off the old grey matter and challenge your brain

If a WiiWare review can be judged on the sheer amount of notes taken then Brain Challenge deserves an award. We tried hard to fit everything on two sheets of A4 and still failed. While essentially being a copy-cat of Nintendo’s immensely popular Brain Age games; Brain Challenge is a comprehensive package that should not be unfairly written off.

The game begins with a rather irritating sound bite and the appearance of a pretty face. Dr. Hurley, a blonde haired “yummy mummy” starts out with a greeting that varies depending on the time of your Wii clock and quickly moves on with some trivia and a general knowledge quiz. It has no bearing on the actual game and serves more as an ice breaker but it’s clear from the realistic greeting and friendly tone that Gameloft wants you to feel like you are consulting with a real doctor whilst playing Brain Challenge. You’ll even be able to select an alternative doctor later on, allowing the ladies to get some digital eye-candy in the form of Prof. Stevens. Both the doctors have distinctive personalities and while not being a major feature are fairly well executed.

The first thing the doctor wants you to do is to select a Mii profile and quickly complete a set of challenges, known as the “Daily Test”. The “Daily Test” is broken up into a range of activities based upon several categories: logic, maths, memory, visual and focus. Each category has a number of activities designed to tune the focus of that group. For example, logic puzzles are based on completing shapes, maths puzzles will challenge you to finish equations and (a personal favourite) focus puzzles will test you on which ball bounces higher. There are variations on similar themes and while there are enough to keep you coming back it’s doubtful the game will stay fresh for an extensive period of time. Regardless, the activities that are included are genuinely fun and difficult enough to get you thinking.

Sadly some of the activities suffer from a lack of good explanation which means your results can be skewed for the first couple of plays as you try to understand what the game wants you to do as opposed to what your brain can do. Although it’s only an initial hurdle, it’s disappointing more time wasn’t put into the instructions because it’s the only real gripe we have with an otherwise perfectly executed game.

Upon completing your “Daily Test” you will be shown in graphical form how much of your brain you’re currently using and which categories you excelled in. Apparently, here at WiiWare World we only make use of 10% of our brains and our strongest category is logic, making us quite a methodical thinkers. Statistic-fiends are well catered for in Brain Challenge with easy-to-access results that are logged over time. It’s nothing that hasn’t been seen in games of this type before but the commentary from your chosen doctor is a nice addition.

In addition to the “Daily Test” mode there is also a “Stress Test” which takes the same activities from the previous mode but moulds them together in a different way. Essentially the “Stress Test” tries to take your attention away from the questions by overloading the screen with other diversions. The “Wolf & Sheep” test is quite a good example as it places two questions on the screen at once with an overall objective of stopping the wolf from catching up with the sheep. Answering a question correctly on the left side of the screen will slow the wolf down while doing so on the right will speed the sheep up. However get one wrong and there’s mutton on the menu. It’s hard to explain with words what a strain the sheer amount of on-screen activity has on the brain but rest assured we ended up not faring too well in the “Stress Test” (we blame this on the stress of being involved with a world-leading WiiWare review site).

Alongside the standard tests there are also some unlockable modes which aim to help improve your multitasking and physical brain. One such activity is the “Tiger Ride” which challenges you to answer questions whilst controlling a tiger on a bicycle. It sounds ludicrous but it’s a genuine “pat your head, rub your belly” activity as you use the D-pad to select answers while twisting the remote to pedal. Unfortunately the controls feel a tad cumbersome when it deviates from its standard point and click.

Brain Challenge also provides a robust four player mode for those who want it. It mixes up the single player activities into a range of time attack and speed round modes. Whilst the multiplayer is certainly nothing groundbreaking, it is enjoyable in short sessions with family or friends. It’s worth noting that the multiplayer games are all simultaneous and thus require you to own more than one remote if you wish to take advantage of them. Given the game's nature and audience it would have been nice to have seen at least one multiplayer mode that takes advantage of single remote sharing, but it’s a very minor gripe.

The presentation is well considered in Brain Challenge with the bright graphics, inclusion of Miis and some decent electronic tunes. The music can become a bit erratic when you’re trying to think and while it suits the “Stress Test” you wonder why they didn’t choose something a little more soothing for the “Daily Test”.

Conclusion

In all honesty there’s really very little to moan about with Brain Challenge. The puzzles are varied and enjoyable whilst remaining genuinely challenging, the range of modes on offer are interesting but not overwhelming, and the stats are detailed and accurate. However whether or not you should buy a game like this is entirely subjective. Whilst it’s hard to believe games of this type improve the player’s intelligence as much as the hype would have you believe, we do think they can provide a refreshing mental challenge which can only be beneficial. Of course this is all down to personal prerogative and only you can make the decision as to whether you think this game will be worthwhile or not. Regardless, Gameloft have succeeded in blowing our initially low expectations out of the water once again with yet another “does exactly what it says on the tin” offering. If you’ve never really been in the market for a self-improvement game, Brain Challenge will do nothing to change your mind. On the other hand, if you already count yourself as a hardcore fan of the genre or simply want to jump onto the edutainment bandwagon then Brain Challenge is not only fun but it’s also very cheap.

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Game Trailer

User Comments (41)

Wiiloveit

#1

Wiiloveit said:

The trailer looked dissappointing, but now I'm considering a purchase.

Gripes I noticed from the Nintendo Channel vid included some unbelievably small text and the that the minigames look suspiciously similar to those on Big Brain Academy (eg, face recognition from the Wii version, and the tangram/money puzzles from the DS one. The five "genres" also shouted "imitation" when I read the Wii Shop guide. If it's still a good game though, I suppose it doesn't really matter.

Oh, and that was quick, Sammy :)

And also: YAY! I'm first :D!

Terra

#2

Terra said:

That review went up very quickly. I don't think i'll buy it but good to know it's a great game for those who like this sort of stuff.

CorbsAdmin

#3

Corbs said:

Great review Sammy. I might pick this one up at some point.

EJD

#4

EJD said:

Looks like a contender against Brain Training, not sure if I'll get it; I'll have to see some YouTube footage first.

Wiiloveit

#5

Wiiloveit said:

@EJD: On the Nintendo channel, select the search by genre/platform icon to view all WiiWare games, select Brain Challenge and there's a two minute trailer awaiting you.

KnucklesSonic8

#6

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Excellent review! Simultaneous multi is also a plus when compared with BBA:WD. But how is the price "cheap"? 1,000 is quite a bit for a game like this.

Wiiloveit

#7

Wiiloveit said:

Oh - WWW has just added the trailer to their YouTube channel, so no doubt that'll be available on the WWW Brain Challenge page shortly.

Boringman54

#9

Boringman54 said:

Good review but you put an American flag for the review meaning you either screwed up or are hinting that it's coming to NA next week.

DazzaAdmin

#10

Dazza said:

That was a mistake when the review was entered, but for the record I'm almost certain this will be out in NA this Monday.

Adamant

#11

Adamant said:

For only 10$, this seems like pretty good value. Might look into this one.

WarioFan63

#12

WarioFan63 said:

or are hinting that it's coming to NA next week.
The Nintendo Channel's had a pretty good streak for upcoming WiiWare games before and according to that, it WILL be out Monday.

Most-Excellent

#13

Most-Excellent said:

All I can say another fantastic 8 score!! :)

Yes, I'm excited for this game... and hope it does come out this Monday Nov 10th!! :)

I'd definately get it! :)

Ricardo91

#18

Ricardo91 said:

I could always use a little brain challenging. :P

Another win for Gameloft!

And check out Mega Man's new Thanksgiving get-up! :D

Twilight_Crow

#19

Twilight_Crow said:

Great review, this game looks good, there's been ages since the last time I used my brain. :P
I'll get it sometime in the future.

Wiiloveit

#20

Wiiloveit said:

@Dazza: Heads up that I noticed a few recently that haven't got all the flags on now that they've been released in different territories.
@Mr Cheez: Loving the new avatar. I'm not much with foreign traditions, but is it a Thanksgiving one (as with Corbie's)?

After a long think, I think that I might as well download this game since Strong Bad isn't out and I don't want Space Invaders. Plus, I just got £7.50 of Game reward card points now that I've bought Guitar Hero World Tour on pre-order, so I can easily get more for a few quid.

DazzaAdmin

#21

Dazza said:

The flag is just to indicate what version of the game was reviewed so you should only see one on the reviews page :D

Bass_X0

#22

Bass_X0 said:

Another win for Gameloft!

I'm surprised. I would have thought Gameloft to be the main culprit of shovelware on the WiiWare. Thankfully they actually aren't - but the games' names do sound like shovelware.

Wiiloveit

#23

Wiiloveit said:

Okey doke, Dazza. Just thought I'd better check that with you anyway.
I wonder what other titles Gameloft will be bringing to WiiWare in future? A new WiiWare TV Show King could earn them a bit of cash, since the first one is still selling pretty well, but the sequel is only available as a retail release later this month. I'm still getting it - sorry, Call of Duty, TV Show King is funnier :)

Wiiloveit

#25

Wiiloveit said:

I seriously doubt that, although the idea is nice - even though a Heroes or Assassins Creed WiiWare game would most likely end up naff.

chiefeagle02

#26

chiefeagle02 said:

I remember seeing the DS iteration in the store bundled with "My Word Coach" for $25, although those bundles for me are hit and miss (ie: inevitably end up at GameStop as trade-ins). I was thinking about getting Brain Age again for my DS, but reading this review's got me interested. I'll give this a deeper look.

Wiiloveit

#28

Wiiloveit said:

After a quick play, I think that this one is pretty good. You have to unlock just about everything, which is a bit of a pain, but I'm looking forward to getting onto the stress tests and multiplayer (my other remote's got dead batteries :()

Most-Excellent

#30

Most-Excellent said:

Tomorrow... November 10th can't come any sooner... for this game is going to be an instant download for anyone... and I bet this game will hit the popular charts in no time!! ;)

Wiiloveit

#31

Wiiloveit said:

@M-E!: I didn't find it that good. The icons and text can often be too small (especially in the stress and multiplayer modes), and the difficulties all over the place. Recommended only to those who really want a cheap brain game.

gameking23

#32

gameking23 said:

Wow another brain game I think I will pass on this one. It be interesting to see if this game makes the top twenty.

I wonder what other WiiWare title will be introduced tomorrow that should be interesting.

dursin

#33

dursin said:

Does anyone know how many blocks this game takes? Doesn't seem to be listed anywhere yet...

ZimLanfire

#34

ZimLanfire said:

Great game! My kids enjoy it as much as my wife and I. They have Brain Age on DS, and I think they love this game equally.

Clayfrd

#36

Clayfrd said:

Hmm... I already think too much. I'll pass. It seems like a lot of people like this game, so I'll let them have their fun :). Good review.

Roihu

#37

Roihu said:

Takes up too much block space, and it costs too much for my tastes.

ds_lover59440

#40

ds_lover59440 said:

Seems like a future-version of those Brain Age games.
I H8 math, and Brain Training games, so I`m definetly not going 2 get this.

robosquirrel

#41

robosquirrel said:

this game has nice ideas, but it graphical presentation is very poor. especially in multiplayer mode, players get lot of problems recognizing single elements in the puzzle.

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