Educational Puzzle Players:
E (Everyone)Release Date:
June 11, 2007 Screenshots: Link Amazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Touch Generations has brought its first game to the Wii with Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree, the sequel to the great BBA game for the DS. Was the movement from the handheld to the the home console a success? Is Wii Degree like its predecessor? Has it had a good transition and is it better? You wont be disappointed.
The first thing that happens when you boot this puppy up is the same as if you were walking into a school or university the first time you get there. You have to register and enroll into your school and classes. This is done by your new professor, Prof. Lobe, that weird little blob of goo. So you pick your Mii, and have a choice to rename it if you like. Then Professor Lobe will take you through the school and request that you take a test to get started.
The Test room is in the Solo wing of the academy, along with the Practice room. There is also a Group wing, but more on that later. Anyways, the test is divided into five components: Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize. Each of these sections has three activities each, making up fifteen activities total in the game, plus a few extras in other modes. Each component of the test is administered separately as opposed to all the different activities at once. There are about ten activities per component. If you succeed in one of the activities, the next time that activity comes up, it will be of a harder difficulty, starting at Easy, and moving to Medium and then Hard. If you fail one of the activities, the difficulty of that activity will go down next time. This is a nice feature as the test will stay within your level. Before each section or component, you can take a little break or read up on the rules of each activity. After you have finished each of the five components, you will get your results. Results come in a few forms: first you get your brain weight, in grams; 750 is average for your first time, with 1400 being average after awhile with the game. Professor Lobe gives you a few more statistics as you play, which are all cool. Then he will give you a grade, like regular school. You will then be given a special title to go along with your grade and shown a chart or graph of your data and how well you did in each component. All of this data is pretty cool and can be looked at in the Office. There is also a bulletin board outside of the Office where you can see everyone's brain weight in a bar graph so you can directly see how you stack up to the competition and see if you are at the head of the class.
After you take your first test, you are free to go around the academy at your leisure. The academy is the menu for this game, and it is an awesome menu. Instead of boring old menus, you actually have the halls of the academy to "walk" through. And it is not only you. There are about twenty of your own Mii's roaming the halls as well, and you can click on them to see them jump. It is very cool. To the left is the Solo wing, with the Office in the middle and the Group wing to the right. Like I previously said, the Solo wing houses the Test and Practice rooms.
The Practice room is the place to go to practice any of the fifteen activities. First you choose a section, Identify, Compute, etc; then an activity, and then the difficulty; easy, medium, or hard. Here, you play the same activity ten times. You are graded on the number you successfully complete and how fast you can do it in. At the end of each round, Professor Lobe will talk to you a bit about your numbers and then hopefully award you a medal, from bronze to gold.
Once you have a handle on the activities, you should invite your classmates to the Group wing of the academy. Here, you can choose from three different modes, or rooms if you like: Mind Sprint, Mental Marathon, and Brain Quiz, each of which you can choose to play by yourself if you do not have anybody else to play with, although of course it is not as fun. In the case of Mind Sprint, which has you pitted against one another, you can play against yours or someone else's stats or records, if playing by yourself. Each of these modes can be played with up to eight people, which is nice and opens up party possibilities. It is also good to know that you only need two Wiimotes tops.
The Mind Sprint room will be the one that you will probably spend the most time in. Here, two teams compete against each other to complete a specific number of activities: 12, 16, 20, or 24. You can choose what category or component you would like to play in, or a mix of all of them, as well as the difficulty. In this mode, the screen is split vertically, with a player on either side and a "ladder" in the middle to show you which activity number each person is on, with a little Mii climbing to the top. If you fail an activity, you will be given a little time penalty before the next activity comes up, so it is a mad rush to the top to crown the victor, with each player fighting in each activity to speed up and complete theirs first. It is a lot of fun and will lead to a lot of laughter and a lot of tears. After the winner is crowned, you will be shown the average amount of time it took you per activity, your success percentage, and then what place you got overall.
Mental Marathon is more cooperative where you play together to complete as many activities as you can, passing the Wiimote along as you go. You have about ten to fifteen seconds at the beginning, but gain time after each successful activity you complete. If you fail an activity though, it is over, so make sure to balance out giving yourself enough time to make sure you do it correctly and not spending too much time that you run out of...time. At the end, your total will be recorded and you can go back and try to beat it or challenge a friend to attempt the feat.
In both modes, there will be random times set up where you can pass the remote on to the next assigned person.
The last mode you can explore is Brain Quiz. Here, you can have up to four teams if you like, and your goal is to gain the most points. There are twelve tiles or cards set up on the screen. Each person gets a turn until all the cards have been played, and when it is your turn you choose the card you want to play. The cards display an activity, including some special ones. When you pick a card, you have a certain amount of time to complete that same activity as many times as you can without getting one wrong. That is the number of points you get on that card that go towards your total. Once you pick the card though, the difficulty of that activity is displayed. There are two to three cards that have a special difficulty, extreme, which are very, very challenging, so hopefully you will not choose those cards. Also, there are a bonus card or two that award you with twice as many points.
The Wiimote's speaker is used throughout the game, with an announcer giving you support along the way. A man or woman will throw out exclamations of support and alert you to how many more activities you have in a certain set or how well you are doing. The implementation is done really well and even used in one activity as orders are being shouted out the Wiimote that you must memorize and then jot down.
The controls are also very simple. In all the activities, you merely have to point at the answer or item that you want and press A. That is it. This is perfect for the type of people the Touch Generation games are directed towards; the casual gamer or new gamers, such as older adults or youngsters who they want to broaden the market. The controls are very friendly, as is the gameplay, but that by no means means that the hardcore, everyday gamer will not like this game. I am such a person and I enjoy it. It is a perfect party game that you can play in between Mario Party 8 and Wii Sports.
Big Brain Academy does make use of the Wii's wifi capabilities, but barely. The only thing you can do is trade records, through WiiConnect24, so you can go back and forth with your friends in an attempt to get the highest ranking overall, but you cannot directly play with them, which is unfortunate. It would have been much more interesting and fun to be able to play with your friends via online play.
The other area where BBA:Wii Degree comes up short in is the unlockables and activities overall. Granted, there are fifteen activities, plus another one or two, but it would have been great to have had thirty or so, where you can play the game over and over again not getting the same activities one after the other to extend play time. Also, once you play the game the first time, you have everything there is to get. There are no real unlockables in the game, aside from getting the medals in Practice mode. It would have been nice to be able to unlock a new difficulty or a couple new activities by getting medals or something. There is also a lack of variation of sorts. For instance, there is a balloon game where you have to hit the balloons with numbers on them lowest to highest. It is that way every time and it is never highest to lowest. It would have been nice and added some depth and challenge if things of that nature would change. I know that this would create some difficulty with some people, who would get confused, but overall I think it would have been a welcomed addition. However though, there is good variation when it comes to pictures. For instance, you have to choose what the picture is of, and lets say it is a grasshopper. Well luckily, the game as at least ten different pictures of grasshoppers, so even though it may be a grasshopper again, it is a different picture which stops people who play the game a lot from having an advantage.
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is a fantastic addition to the Wii library. It can be seen as yet another mini-game compilation, but this one is a bit different as it incorporates more thought than some other mini-game games, such as WarioWare. Also, this is a great game you can get some of your parents or older people you know to play who may be hesitant about playing real video games. This is a great way to bond with your friends and family and show them how it's done and how fun the Wii and video games can be. But of course, this is not a game simply for people who do not play video games. This is a game for anybody and can be enjoyed by all. Keep in mind though, that there are only about fifteen activities to play through, with a range of difficulty, so if you are strapped for cash, you may want to pick up a title that has a little more to offer, such as WarioWare or Rayman, but this is still an excellent choice for something a bit different and educational.7.5/
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