Big Brain Academy: Challenge Between Minds, a review of a Switch game to train your mind



The review of Big Brain Academy: Challenge Between Minds talks about a new game for Nintendo Switch thanks to which to train your mind, even in multiplayer

Nintendo DS, despite its ungainly initial model, was a breakthrough console and, perhaps because of this, a huge success. It’s true that everyone looks to Wii when they think of Nintendo’s rebirth, but it was with the dual-screen console that the big N began to experiment with a new way of conceiving video games. Above all, this is where it realized that the dollars of the masses are just as valuable as those of hardcore gamers. They just need to be attracted in a different way.

This led to the creation of series such as Nintendogs (23 million copies sold!), Professor Layton and especially Brain Training. This multi-million dollar franchise tried to translate into video game some theories of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, an eminent “brain scientist”. Thanks to some clever exercises, Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? promised to remove some of the cobwebs from our minds numbed by computers, calculators and smartphones so as to make them a little brighter. Needless to say, it was a resounding success that went beyond the confines of the video game world and reached the ears of mothers, grandparents and even other professors.

However, there was a problem: Dr. Kawashima also had to follow his academic career and could not develop only video games. How to do, then, to ride the wave of success? Obviously create a game that would take the same principles of Brain Training, able to entertain even without the seal of the famous luminary. Among many more or less successful clones, even Nintendo has tried to exploit the trend with Big Brain Academy.

Developed by Nintendo EAD in 2005, only a few months after Brain Training, and capable of selling more than 6 million copies, the series remained in Nintendo’s drawer for 14 years after Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree sold more than 2 million copies on the Wii.

How will it fare on Nintendo Switch? Find out in our review of Big Brain Academy: Challenge of the Minds.

Train the mind

At the end of each exercise in Big Brain Academy: Challenge of the Minds you will be assigned a score

You don’t have to be an old fart like us to have a more current yardstick than the Nintendo DS classics: Nintendo Switch users have already been able to shake the dust off their synapses with Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch, released in January 2020.

In a nutshell, it’s a series of mini-games (we counted 20, but others could be added through updates or hidden in the game’s folds) divided into 5 macro-groups: Intuition, Memory, Analysis, Algebra and Perception. As it’s easy to understand from the name, each of these groups aims to improve a specific aspect of the mind, so as to get it moving again and regain its lost brilliance.

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Compared to Brain Training in this case we are faced with a much more playful structure, both in the presentation and in the choice of activities. The whole game, in fact, is made with colorful doodle graphics, embellished with Animal Crossing-style verses. This makes Big Brain Academy: Challenge of the Minds much more appealing to approach, especially for younger children.

Challenges against other players in Big Brain Academy: Brain Challenge are the most fun

In addition to the colors and “drawings” the exercises are very often very graphic, something that allows even the youngest to play without major limitations. The possibility of choosing the level of difficulty, as well as between digital and touch controls further opens the door to an unspecified number of contenders, who might find themselves around the console or in front of the TV to find out who has the fittest brain.

The playful presentation is not synonymous with simplicity: it is true that you have to find birds in a cage, count animals, or add up flowers and balloons, but the operation required is not always immediate. In Binari impazziti, for example, you have to complete the path of a train by choosing the missing “pieces”. All very simple, except that at higher difficulty levels not only are the paths more intricate, but the chessboard will be presented from different angles or the path will have to be built starting from the bottom. In Cubolandia you have to count the blocks shown on the screen: from 1 to 10 everyone can do it, but when there are more than 30 it won’t be easy to guess the right number in a few fractions of seconds.

Multiplayer

Big Brain Academy: Challenge Between Minds also has an online multiplayer mode

The heart of Big Brain Academy: Challenge of the Minds thus becomes the party game experience. The exercises present, while fun, may not have appeal for long. It’s fine to unlock clothes and accessories to spruce up your avatar, increasingly difficult exercises, and it’s also fine to challenge online brainiacs to a performance, but after a while the exercises will start to repeat themselves a bit.

Different, however, is the multiplayer challenge. Thanks to the ability to customize the challenge level before each mini-game, it will be quite easy to find the right balance between the participants. Grandma is a sudoku dragon, but her grandson is just starting to do math? One will be a beginner, while the other will place the elite level. Are the children pro players, while the last video game dad picked up was Pong? The parent uses the console’s touch controls, while the youngsters take advantage of the Joy-Cons. With a few tricks, the challenges will always be balanced and consequently fun until the end.

The fact that you’re exercising your numeracy, lateral thinking, and memory skills are also bonuses that might push parents who are more rigid or less accustomed to video games to bend the rules.

Technique

The style of Big Brain Academy: Challenge of the Minds is very recognizable

As we said, nobody would buy Big Brain Academy: Challenge Between Minds for its technical aspect. This doesn’t mean that the game isn’t very clear and functional. More than nice to look at, for this kind of game it’s important not to put obstacles in front of the player: it has to be readable in every situation, without too many colors or frills, especially when there are 4 players sharing the same screen. In this, Nintendo’s product works very well and guarantees a fair challenge, even for the youngest players.

Comment

Big Brain Academy: Challenge Between Minds is a game that knows what it has to aim for. It does so with a budget price tag, simple but fun graphics, and a rather well-done set of games. A single player might find it limiting, but it’s perfect for quick group challenges, thanks to its easy readability, difficulty customization, and hit-and-run approach. And the fact that it helps sharpen the mind a bit is, as always, a welcome bonus.

PRO

  • Customization of difficulty
  • Immediate to understand and play
  • Train your mind
  • Budget price
  • Few mini-games
  • Alone has limited palatability
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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