E (Everyone)Release Date:
June 5, 2006 Written By:
Big Brain Academy is the second game for the Nintendo DS that works and stimulates one’s brain, with Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! being the first. Although these two Touch Generations titles are classified in the same category, they couldn’t be anymore different. From their design, to the way they play, and even the age group seemingly targeted, these two brain training titles are vastly different.
BBA is about determining the player’s brain weight. The more it weighs, the better the brain. In test mode, the player will be rated in five different areas, consisting of think, memorize, analyze, compute, and identify. Depending on the speed and accuracy in finishing the activities, the player’s brain weight and grade will be calculated.
When player’s want to hone their skills, they can enter practice mode. In it, the player can select any individual activity and choose to play it for as long and as many times as they please. For instance, a player can choose to practice his or her thinking skills, and in the think category they have 3 various activities to choose from. Five categories with three different activities in each makes a grand total of 15 different activities a player can do, which is not too little but a couple more would have been better.
Practice mode isn’t just for practice, however, as players can win medals by performing well in the activities. This gives players a reason to play for hours on end, as players can try it as many times as they like on a given day, unlike Brain Age where one result at most was recorded each day. Even the test can be taken as many times as the player wants, as long as the brain can handle it.
The 5 categories and the 3 activities within them are pretty self-explanatory. In the compute category for example, one activity requires the player to do math calculations except this time the questions are written in English such as “one plus three is”. In another category, analyze, one activity called Missing Link has the player trying to match the drawing on the top screen to the touch screen. Players must look closely at the drawing on top and then complete the one on the touch screen. Nearly all the activities in BBA are highly enjoyable.
As if to make a statement to those players claiming that Brain Age looked dull and uninspired, the visual style is completely different to Brain Age in BBA. Brain Age had mostly plain white backgrounds, but BBA on the other hand has all kinds of differently colored backgrounds with many forms of patterns and drawings. This is one of the reasons why the two brain training titles seemingly target separate age groups. From the art, the menus, to even the title screen, BBA is miles ahead of Brain Age when it comes to graphical art style.
It seems brain training games will never be able to fit much background music in, as doing so during the training activities would distract a player. During activities, it is silent with only a nice ring that sounds whenever a question is answered correctly and the odd buzz noise when it is done wrong. Some nice tunes do play whenever medals are obtained, and a few songs play during the menus. Otherwise, BBA doesn’t offer much when it comes to this department, but then again it never needed to.
Controls are spot on in BBA, mainly because most activities require simple tabs on the touch screen and a few requiring the drawing of straight lines. This should cause no problems of any sort. Unlike Brain Age where a player has to actually write in the answers on the touch screen, BBA fixes all the recognition issues of numbers apparent in Brain Age by having a mini calculator on the touch screen where players need only to tap the numbers. BBA just demonstrates how fast and precise a touch screen can be when it comes to selecting from a list of options.
BBA truly suffers when it comes to replay value. Once a player obtains a considerable amount of medals in practice mode, got a satisfying brain weight, and played against their friends in versus mode, there is not much incentive to play on. Even worse is that the game offers no unlockables. Whereas Brain Age recorded everyday scores and awarded a stamp each day, BBA offers nothing unique or bonuses from day to day. Once BBA is put away, it will be put away for a long time.
Graphs in Brain Age provided players immense satisfaction as players can observe how much they have improved or just the fact they have stayed consistent in their results is often pleasing. Sadly, BBA does not have these graphs. Since BBA gives players the freedom of playing for as long and as many times as they like, it shouldn’t be surprising to see gamers play for three hours straight on a certain day, but then only plays for one day the entire week. Once players achieve a goal in BBA, there is no motivation to keep the player coming back to the activity.
All the activities were simply designed to be fun in BBA. Everything looks colourful and varied with the art style, along with great tunes that play whenever a question is answered correctly. Just the looks and sounds alone create an enjoyable environment to train one’s brain.
With the activities, they range from connecting dots to finding pairs, all of which can offer one or two hours of good time. The medals as well provide a rewarding factor, and also give players a target to work towards. Some gold medals though, are really difficult to obtain, and even harder are the platinum medals. Since BBA is suppose to be one title that tries to appeal to people who don’t normally play games, the developers should have made the game just a tad bit easier for all the newcomers and the players who have a tendency to complete their games one hundred percent.
In the end, players of Brain Age will be surprised at how vastly different it is to Big Brain Academy and vice versa. From the graphics, the replay value, to the way they two play, the two brain trainers couldn’t be anymore different. Even though incentives to keep gamers playing for months each day is lacking in BBA, the graphics, controls, and overall enjoyment when playing is a step up on Brain Age. Work the brain and really have fun doing so in Big Brain Academy.8/
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