Like the second volume of a textbook, 3 Blokes Studios has created another series of gray-matter exercises with Brainiversity 2. They’ve learned a little bit from their first outing, and added some new games to the routine.
Brain training games really exploded when Nintendo released Brain Age for the Nintendo DS. It was a series of games that purportedly made your brain stronger by "exercising" different parts through targeted activities. Since then, there have been many different brain-training games from different studios. The first Brainiversity was a decent collection of games that had all the trimmings of a brain training game: a cute mascot, trackable progress and a nice selection of 16 games.
In Brainiversity 2, there’s simply more of everything. There are 24 total games to play (though a few of them are "classic" meaning "repeated from the first game"). You initially start with four games unlocked, and as you play daily, you earn Brain Bucks with which to buy the other activities.
When you first start, you are introduced to Edison, a "talking" lightbulb whose digital murmurs are the first thing you’ll mute in the options screen. He welcomes you to the Brainversity, and gives you your first Daily Exam. The game takes you through three tasks (with a short explanation of each) and grades you on how well your brain is generally working. After completing this exam, – and earning your 100 Brain Bucks for the first day – you’re sent to the game selection screen. Like before, there are four categories to work with: Math, Language, Memory and Analysis.
Each category is fairly self-explanatory. Math, of course, tasks you with various math problems and ways of counting, be it keeping track of a running equation, figuring out a tip on a menu or being given the answer but selecting the question. Language involves your ability to use words, or unscramble them. Unfortunately, some of the games are a little unfair. For instance, one of them asks you to unscramble the words in an adage. However, unless you’ve actually heard the phrase before, you’ll sometimes be left wondering about the order, simply because you’ve never encountered it.
Memory often deals with remembering specific details or patterns with shapes, colors or sounds. Finally, Analysis involves looking at a problem, but having to apply logic in order to solve it. For example, imagine a triangle and the word "circle" in front of it. The game may ask you to name the shape, or it may ask you to name the word. You have to think carefully in order to excel.
Each game averages between 60 and 90 seconds, so there definitely is no major time commitment. In fact, Brainiversity 2 suggests you play for short spurts daily, like practicing a musical instrument. Over time, your scores are tracked using various charts and graphs, so you can see how much "smarter" you’re getting.
As you do better, there are unlockable trophies for achieving things like getting a score over 90 in different activities, or scoring over 100 in your daily exam, or even simply purchasing all the games. Each game costs 100 Brain Bucks, so you should have everything unlocked after about three weeks.
Or, if you’d like, you can do it sooner. Brainiversity 2 uses your computer’s clock to gauge when you played last, so if you’d like to unlock everything very quickly, then a quick trip to the control panel to change your date and time settings will make things go a lot faster. (It’s a shame that it can be tricked like this, but it’s hard to imagine another solution.)
Since it is a sequel, there are a few things that are improved from the first game. On top of there simply being more to do, there are more trophies to unlock than stamps to collect in first title. The music has been toned down significantly, but unfortunately, there’s only one track that gets repetitive very quickly. The one thing that could definitely have improved is the graphical presentation, which looks pretty much unchanged from the first game. Certainly the focus is on the games themselves, but a little color may have gone a long way.
But rather than try to change the game, take it for what it is. Brainiversity 2 is a fun series of diversions that will flex your brain tissue, even for a short while. It’s a great straight-forward brain teaser, and that’s all it wants to be. If you’re looking for a well-made diversion, trying enrolling at the Brainiversity.