Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree
Taining your brain in Brain Training or using it in Brain Academy, both games are made by Nintendo, but there’s a major difference between both franchises. Brain Training uses a scientific, rigid method, while Brain Academy brings you a more playful version of edutainment. That’s something you immediately notice when looking at the colourful mini games of Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree.
It’s probably more correct to say Big Brain Academy makes you think of WarioWare, than to compare the game to the Brain Training games. There are three mini games per category (compute, visualise, identify, memorise and analyse).
The concept is so simple you can find the solution in a few seconds. That’s why you have to give as many good answers as you can before time’s up. The controls are mostly just aiming your Wiimote and pushing A to shoot, drag or select. Very intuitive and therefore accessible for everyone.
In Brain Training you’re busy with mathematical sums, making words from a bunch of letters, etc. Brain Academy is more like a fun IQ quiz. In other words: you always have to use your brain more or less, but it doesn’t really feel that way. The games vary from shooting balloons with numbers in the correct order,
finding the odd animation, recognizing the right form of a pile of blocks, using your Wiimote as a flashlight in a dark room and saying which animals are present the most to finding the cages with a bird in it after they’re all shuffled.
You can practise all the fifteen mini games until you drop, in three (actually four) different difficulty levels: easy, medium and hard. Depending on the number of correct answers and your speed, you get a weight. The better you are, the bigger that part of your brain is and the more it will weigh. At least, that’s the idea.
In every difficulty level you can earn a bronze, silver and gold medal and if you’re extremely good, even a platinum medal. Do you succeed in getting the gold medal in the hard level, then you unlock the expert mode. Believe me, the mini games may be very simple and easy, in this difficulty it’s very hard to earn the gold, let alone, the platinum medal. Trying to do a little better every time to finally get that platinum medal is something that keeps you coming back. You know, the typical “one more try” feeling.
Are you tired of practising? Then you can take a test to see how heavy your brain has become. Each of the five categories is present, with the different games of one category mixed up. If you do well, it will become gradually more difficult. At the end, the total weight is calculated and you get a score (A++ is the best you can do). The results are also shown graphically so you can see what categories could use some more practise.
Although fifteen mini games doesn’t seem a lot, the variation and challenge is big enough to keep you playing.
However, you will soon reach your max capacity, a point where you just can’t do any better. Unlike Brain Training, there’s no calendar function or handy graph to see your test results over a period of time, so you can’t follow your evolution or that of your friends. So when do you get the game out again? If you have friend visiting of course! As it happens, Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree also has a multiplayer mode.
Ok, we have to admit, those multiplayer possibilities are pretty limited. There are three modes but only one can be played with two Wiimotes. The others need you to pass the Wiimote between up to eight players. In ‘mind sprint’ (the one you can play with a friend simultaneously), you choose a category or a mix, a difficulty level and the number of mini games you want to play.
Then you play in split screen against a human opponent in a race to the finish. There’s also the possibility to make teams, at which you have to pass the two Wiimotes again. You can also play against the student record of a friend. Then the computer levels his “brain” with his or her score so it feels like you’re really playing against him or her. The fun part is you’re able to send your student record to a friend’s Wii by using the WiiConnect24. You don’t even have to enter their friends code again!
The name of the multiplayer mode ‘mental marathon’ says it all. You’re playing alone or with maximum seven friend. After a few mini games, the Wiimote is passed on to the next one. If anyone makes a mistake, the marathon ends. Of course, the high scores are saved and it’s the goal to keep doing better and better. The ideal game to see which of your friends is the weakest link!
Last but not least, there’s ‘brain quiz’ for maximum eight players, also with the passing on concept. The screen is divided into compartments with mini games or categories. In turn, you choose one and only then you find out what the difficulty level will be.
Especially the expert mode will make you bite your nails and curse a lot. You try to give the right answers to as much questions as possible before time is up. Some compartments give you an unexpected bonus so your number of correct answers is doubled. If everything is played, the one with the highest score wins.
All of these things are fun, definitely with a bunch of friends and some alcohol, but it’s not unthinkable you’ll have a feelings something’s missing. Even if it was just a mode where you can play with four Wiimotes at the same time or an online mode. Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is most surely not a bad start, but it could have been bigger and better.
Although this game is graphically very basic, you won’t mind.
Everything has very vivid colours and your own Miis walking through the hallways gives it a personal twist. The sounds are fun and catching. The only thing that might irritate you after a while are the encouragements coming from your Wiimote.
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is to be considered a mix of WarioWare and a fun IQ test. Speed, skills and using your brain without torturing, that’s what it’s about. The addiction lies in trying to do better just one more time. There are a lot of possibilities they didn’t make use of (think of graphs to follow your personal evolution, online multiplayer or games with four Wiimotes), but it’s still a fun game you can play on your own or with a bunch of friends.