Co-Optimus - Review - Beyond Co-op Reviews: January 2022

Beyond Co-op Reviews: January 2022 - Page 2

Beyond Co-op Review - Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain

Review by: Paul Acevedo

Back in the Nintendo DS days, Nintendo developed a pair of brain game titles: Big Brain Academy and Brain Age. Whereas the latter never saw any iterations outside of the DS, Big Brain Academy got its first sequel on the Wii U. Several years later, the third game in the series, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain, has arrived on Switch. As the subtitle indicates, this entry boasts a multiplayer focus, but single-player hasn’t been forgotten either.

A big part of the new game’s longevity comes from customizing the player’s character and unlocking new parts for it. Before hopping into multiplayer, I strongly recommend that everyone in the household take the time to set up characters in single-player. You need an actual Switch profile in order to create a character and earn progress – otherwise, you’ll be stuck playing as a guest. Having set up their characters from the limited pool of starting options, players will then be able to earn coins and unlock up to 300 clothing items. These include clothes, headwear, and facial accessories.

The single-player portion of Brain vs. Brain consists of the returning Practice and Test modes, plus the new Ghost Clash and the unlockable Super Practice modes. Practice is where players can learn to play the minigames that appear across all modes. Super Practice, which consists of higher-difficulty versions of the regular minigames, unlocks once a gold medal has been achieved in all 20 Practice minigames. Ghost Clash lets the solo player compete against online players’ ghosts, which is both enjoyable and the best way to earn coins for customization items. Test puts the player through one minigame from each category and then awards a handful of brain ratings based on performance. The Rankings option compares the scores of all local and online friends.

Brain vs. Brain’s minigames come in the same five categories as the original, but each category now has four unique games instead of just three. Most of the minigames are quite fun, like Whack Match, which works like whack-a-mole but with specific targets; Covered Cages, a version of the shell game with birds; and Train Turn, in which players choose the missing pieces of a train track. The only dud in the bunch is Tick-Tock Turn. In this returning DS minigame, players must quickly calculate times on a clock and then rotate the clock hands to the correct position. Not only is the math genuinely tough, but the analog stick controls for rotating the hands don’t provide nearly as much accuracy as the DS version’s stylus controls. All minigames are timed, so losing seconds to the fiddly stick controls on Tick-Tock Turn is a pain.

Party is where you’ll find Brain vs. Brain’s local multiplayer modes. When playing with only two players, you can select a head-to-head mode with touch-screen controls. Otherwise, Party supports playing with controllers for 2-4 players. The party can opt to select minigames by either spinning a wheel or manual selection, as well as setting the game length from 1-5 minigames. Handicap options are intended to level the playing field when playing with children and non-gamers, though it seems nearly impossible to win when selecting even one difficulty higher than the other players. Party offers a great time, but, unlike all other modes, Party players don’t earn coins for unlocking customization items. Given that you’re doing the same thing in both single-player and multiplayer, there’s no reason for multiplayer games to go unrewarded.

Given the scarcity of prominent brain games on modern consoles, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is a truly standout title. The cartoony visuals create a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere that should appeal to family members of all ages. Most of the minigames are simple to learn but have lots of room for improvement and mastery, adding plenty of replay value. As long as you like unlocking customization parts and/or have friends and family to compete against, you’ll get hours of brain-bending entertainment from Brain vs. Brain. The very fair $30 launch price doesn’t hurt, either!

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain sells for $29.99 in digital and physical formats.

Our Rating: 4 out of 5




 
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