Given the chart-topping success of cerebral challenge Brain Age for Nintendo’s handheld DS system on both sides of the Pacific, it’s surprising that we haven’t seen more titles which follow its intellect-raising example.
Expect things to change soon, however, with the impending release of Gogii Games’ novel outing Brain Booster, which purports to tangibly improve one’s literary comprehension, mathematical skills, spatial reasoning and other assorted academic abilities.
Despite the outing’s adorable presentation–a cartoon aesthetic permeates from a bushy-haired, Einstein look-alike instructor to the colorful chalkboard on which tests take place–it already seems a surprisingly smart way to pass the time.
Starting out, you’ll choose from two eager pupils: A wide-eyed girl or boy. Each has been invited to attend the prestigious Brain Booster Academy. Diving into the curriculum is appropriately straightforward. The process, like most play sessions, is simply composed of eight individual timed mini-games which must be attempted in immediate sequence.
Featured challenges are as follows:
- A to Z–Several words missing specific letters are listed. Using the mouse to click on missing alphabetic characters or entering them with your keyboard, complete these turns of phrase to progress onward.
- Sudoku–Grids of numbered squares fill the screen. Fill horizontal and vertical rows with missing values such that all use each digit in the sequence only once.
- Colorex–Utilizing the mouse or arrow keys, employ a cursor to push colored blocks around varyingly-shaped backgrounds. Position every brick next to its visual match to advance.
- Series Puzzle–A series of numerical values is presented. (For example: 1, 3, 5, X, 9. Enter the missing number that completes it and you’ll move onto the next puzzle.
- Word Scramble–Jumbled words are displayed. Reposition letters to make them coherent.
- Memory Grid–Grids of colored shapes (green triangles, yellow rectangles, red octagons, blue moons) are shown to the player before quickly disappearing. Recreate these patterns on empty grids and you’ll move forward.
- Count Expert–Several objects (e.g. individual atoms) are presented briefly before being covered by a giant brain. Items slowly drift in or out of the cerebrum, adding to or subtracting from the total number contained within it. Once the animated sequence finishes, successfully deduce the remaining number of objects to come out a winner.
- Heal the Words–Vertical and horizontal rows, each containing a few letters, are highlighted on-screen. Using one set of characters from each stack, piece them together to form meaningful words.
Naturally, the quicker you do so, the more time left over on a ticking clock-and the more points awarded. Spending these points lets you advance up the in-game rankings, displayed as school levels from elementary to university. But, of course, the further you go, the tougher things get, and the better one must perform to keep moving ahead.
Amusingly, the main campaign mode, Ranking Quiz, can only be attempted three times daily, meaning you’ve always got to bring your top game. Thankfully, two additional play variants (Practice Quiz and Quick Game) let you freely hone your technique while under the gun or without pesky time constraints. The program further tracks performance from day to day, letting you see when you’re having an off-week or actually learning something.
A fairly novel idea for the casual PC games space, Brain Booster should appeal to men and women, novices and veterans, as well as young and old alike. Its supposed target market: Anyone who feels like their poor, atrophied cranium could use a workout. Therefore instead of turning on the news or reading the morning paper, you might consider soon getting in a new AM habit.
Specifically, waking up, rolling over and reaching for the keyboard. From what we’ve seen so far, at least here, it really does pay to do your homework.