Brain Challenge (DSiWare)

Game Review

Brain Challenge Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Make your grey matter

The DS is rightly lauded for introducing many new gamers to the fold, and it’s pretty much single-handedly created the “brain training” genre - whether that’s a good thing or not likely depends on whether you’ve played more than three games on your DS in the past four years. Gameloft already had a crack at the genre when they released Brain Challenge on DS in 2008, but now they’ve resurrected it for the DSiWare service complete with DSi features.

Straight from the get-go, Brain Challenge features crisp, smooth presentation, with two very nice-looking doctors (one of whom bears a striking resemblance to a certain member of NL staff…) taking you by the hand and introducing you to the challenge in the game’s title: to use more than 10% of your brain. Of course, we all know that “we only use 10% of our brains” is a complete fallacy, here it functions as a harmless “brain score” in much the same way as Brain Training’s brain age and Big Brain Academy’s brain weight, but all the same it genuinely makes you feel smarter over time – a key part of any similar title’s success.

In terms of seriousness, Brain Challenge sits neatly between both of Nintendo’s intellectual properties, with games ranging from physical equations to calculating weights. There’s five main categories each containing six exercises, as well as three further categories containing three games each, and all games have three difficulty levels. Calculating the amount of content available here is rather strenuous on the old brain in its own right, but there's around 100 available exercises including the different difficulties of each game: not too shabby for your 800 DSi Points.

Of the games on offer here, a surprisingly high number of them are good fun, although the initial tests including “spot the difference” and “join the dots” don’t get it off to an auspicious start. One of the most enjoyable games comes later on, and sees you solving simple maths and logic puzzles to help a sheep escape a hungry wolf, an exercise which - although very fun - does seem highly unlikely to help you in your daily life. Aside from that it’s your standard puzzles based on shapes, sizes, colours, counting and other things we’re all probably quite adept at understanding by now, but presented in a slick and often tricky set of games that manage to keep you playing to beat your high score or unlock a new feature.

As with all good brain training games, you’re given an evaluation right off the bat. Starting off nice and slowly by creating a profile (accompanied by your signature and a pleasant photo from the DSi’s camera) you dive into your first Daily Test, which gives you simple exercises to estimate how much of your brain is being put to good use. As you repeat your daily tests, you unlock further exercises and even some extra bonuses, including a doodle pad and a music creation area that all help to de-stress you after all that brain straining.

In fact, stress is one thing that Brain Challenge handles very differently to its Nintendo-developed brethren. Opening the dedicated “stress test” sees you tackling similar problems but with a series of distractions, including solving sums whilst being berated by a balding man, defending cheese and calculating physical problems and other frankly bizarre combinations. It seems odd for a game to stress you out intentionally, and it’s debatable whether it has any real purpose, but it’s almost certainly the most original part of Brain Challenge – though that’s damning with faint praise.

We’ve all seen countless games like this over the DS’s lifespan, and although this title’s DSi features are very nice – your profile photo shows up in quite a few games, and there’s the ability to snap photos and doodle on them too – it’s hard to escape the fact it’s been seen before. In fact, drawing on your photos is built into the DSi itself, and is even implemented better there, so Brain Challenge loses another point for originality. Most of the puzzles are just variations on exercises from other brain games, and the game’s most significant addition to the formula – Stress Test mode – has probably even less scientific merit than the brain percentage score the game hands out after each test.


Like Gameloft’s previous DSiWare releases, Brain Challenge certainly isn’t short on content, and in terms of presentation it rivals the quality of many DS games available on store shelves, but it’s just a shame that so much of what’s available here has been seen before – most notably, in fact, in the Brain Challenge games on WiiWare and DS. What Brain Challenge does, it does very well – it’s just a shame it’s pretty much all been done before.

From the web

Game Trailer

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User Comments (37)



metakirbyknight said:

So, its good but only if I don't have any other brain training games. I might get it then.

Oh and First! Yay!
Edit- Odnetin, I hate you.



James said:

No need for any of you guys to buy this game then, not with those amazing counting skills!



Odnetnin said:

@Prosody I was considering improving my math skills with this game before heading back to school... bursts in a fit of wild and uncontrollable laughter



Kirigirisu said:

Nice review, I like the sound of the game but I don't think I want to part with 800 points for it! I'll wait for something else a bit more original maybe!



WolfRamHeart said:

Good review Prosody! I think 800 points is a little pricey for a game that doesn't really bring anything new to the table. Thanks for the heads-up!



TheEmulationZones said:

Now what i would say is: This is to dam stupid, no need for another brain game and sure not from gameloft cus gameloft sucks at graphics! Brain training math edition & arts edition & sudoku edition makes brain games perfect!



Objection said:

@The EumulationZones-Dontcha luv how darn looks like dam?
Anyway, the game's failing point is that its not eh first of its kind. Hell, its not the fifth of its kind.



Knux said:

I'm the EIGHTEENTH person (I'm 18 years old) to agree that this game is not original.



Corbs said:

Come on Gameloft. Just bring us Castle of Magic and be done with it.



Darknyht said:

For the 800 free points I am glad I picked up Brain Age: Math instead. At least it came with a version of Dr. Mario (which I picked up later) and it allowed me to trade in my copy towards something else.

I am curious how the two compare in terms of hand writing recognition. Brain Age does have trouble recognizing my numbers (especially 4's) when I writing them quickly and small in the x100 calculations.



James said:

@Corbie - you have a shield next to your name now! I'm jealous.




Gogata said:

So, the score is down only because the non-originality? If so, I think that I will get it because I don't have a single brain challange type game on any of my consoles... Anyway, for me(read previouses sentence), what is better?
Oh and by thr way, what is the shield icon?



Bankai said:

I personally really enjoyed this one. It's not as clean as Brain Training, but there's plenty to it, and it's still an addictive experience.

It's also a far less "budget" package than Gameloft's other releases. Brain Challenge actually feels like a complete game that was tested properly. The other games all feel like they were created on the cheap.



James said:

@Gogata - yeah, there's no major problems with the game other than the fact it's been seen before. The handwriting support is good and some of the games are good fun, but it's been done before. If you haven't played a brain game, you can't go wrong with this one for 800 Points.

As for the shield, anyone with that symbol next to their name is part of the site administration team



Gogata said:

@Prosdy - thanks, I got the game and I really enjoy it. It is nice to see that it has much more content than the other Gameloft Games.



Grumble said:

I actually purchased this game tonight and I must admit, I actually like the puzzles and tests. Great title!



Grumble said:

Does anybody own the original DS cart of this game? Want to know if its exactly the same or more on the cart than the dsiware game?




I haven't downloaded the dsiware game but I think the retail version may have more brain games available that's all. There are some differences on this ware version. Overall, you may as well get this version or better still the wiiware version which I downloaded. I actually ended up selling my retail title now as I've played it enough and am now playing the wiiware version often!

Personally, as I said above, this could be considered an 8 if you don't have the wiiware or retail versions imho.



GotWii said:

I have the WiiWare version of this title and it is a good Brain Game.
In fact I own the Nintendo's Brain Age on DS and Wii and I prefer the Gameloft one mostly because I can't stand that annoying narrator professor in Nintendo's Bran Game and the endless blah blah blah I have to skip through. As Ledgend Marioid already stated if you don't have a Brain Game you can't go wrong with this one.



pink_dsi_26 said:

I like this brain game way better than the Brain age Arts & letters. This game is fun and there is lots of content. The brain age ones are borring and repetitive. And the Dr guy is so annoying, & yes i think this game is worth the 800 points.



DemonnPrincess said:

I have this for my iPod already. I have the demo that came with my SGH-T749 but I didn't buy it because I already have it. Same here. (There was no point in my comment. -_- )

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