DS Roundup • Page 2

PES 2008, Brain Challenge, Mega Man ZX Advent, Paint By DS, Cooking Mama 2.

Brain Challenge

  • Developer: Gameloft
  • Publisher: Ubisoft

I don't know if I should feel insulted that Tom asked me to review one of these so-called brain games. Is he trying to tell me I'm stupid or something? Me, with my B in Mathematics (third attempt)? Perhaps, though, the real indication of stupidity was in agreeing to the task when a hundred awful Brain Training clones have flooded the market. Why bother subjecting myself to another one? I may not know much, but I know how to spell 'saturation'.

Where Brain Training had you reducing the age of your thinking organ, Brain Challenge offers the less 'scientifically accurate' method of using tests and puzzles to increase the percentage of it being used. Whatever. It's an entirely made up figure anyway - it starts you off by scoring you with a low number then eggs you on to keep getting better. Providing you don't fluff up badly, it increases a few arbitrary percentage points each game until you're supposedly into boffin territory, able to blow up heads with your mind.

Besides that, the numbers are really only there to keep you playing in order to unlock mini-games after percentage landmarks. Despite encouraging a daily test, there's no restriction on how often you can play each game, meaning you can shoot through it all in a few days if you want.

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Tests are entirely stylus-driven (no shouting "blue" in a mangled accent here) divided into five categories of five puzzles: Logic, Maths, Memory, Visual, and Focus. To train for the day, you have to go through a sequence of short, timed challenges in each category answering as many as you can. Also included alongside the main package is Stress Training, which asks you to answer the same questions under some form of distraction the game decides throws at you - forcing you to answer two questions at once, covering the screen in insects - in order to measure your stress level. It's all rather silly, yet pretty enjoyable. In both modes, as your brain score increases, the puzzles do gradually get harder, keeping your interest a while longer after familiarity with the puzzles kicks in.

Its flaw, however, is that we've seen most of these puzzles before. Some have even graced other titles in some form or other: the maths questions in Brain Training, the 'Which is the heaviest?' questions in Big Brain Academy, to name two. Counting things and matching shapes aren't exactly new ideas and there's nothing overall that makes the challenges memorable in their own right.

It is admittedly well put together, though. It wraps it all in colourful presentation, avoiding stepping into the stark world of Dr Kawashima. Instead, you're accompanied by a sexy choice of male or female doctor who offers advice and babbles away every time you power up the game. Conversely, it never feels more than throwaway fun. And while it never claimed to be anything to the contrary, its blatant copying of the Brain Training formula and the lack of innovation that results don't do it any favours.

5/10

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