Big Brain Academy: Wii DegreeESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Developer – Nintendo
Publisher – Nintendo
Nintendo has not been one to shy away from innovation or originality and their line of games, such as Brain Age and Big Brain Academy, which fall under the Touch Generation series on the DS, is avid proof of their commitment to such. Well the big ‘N’ has once again shown that they are open to taking these original ideas and carry them over to the Wii. Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree has recently been launched and I have to say that the transfer from handheld portable to home console isn’t that bad and makes for some interesting gaming indeed.
Portable games like Brain Age or Big Brain Academy never pushed the limits of the DS, and the same can be said with the recent Wii version of Big Brain Academy. There is no doubt that this game is definitely not a polygon pusher full of special effects that to show what the hardware can do. That being said, the game’s simplicity has some charm that can’t be discounted. The simple 2D graphics are bright, colorful and visually appealing while the games presentation, from the interface to the actual gameplay, is very clean and well implemented. An added bonus to the look of the game is that Mii’s are incorporated into the gameplay as well. Overall, this game is pleasing to the eye but don’t expect anything high on the wow factor.
Audio in Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is not that bad of an affair. There is a fair amount of speech that comes out of the Wii’s internal speaker (more about this in the gameplay section below) and this was quite surprising to this reviewer. As for the music, it really suited the theme of the game and I found that it actually added to the madness of the game, especially in the multiplayer modes. Overall the audio does a good job of adding to the games playability and there is really nothing bad to be said in this department.
The premise of Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree has not digressed much from its DS original. You enrol in the Big Brain Academy, which is a virtual college. You navigate this college through a simple graphic representation of the school’s hallway and doors that lead to a series of challenges designed to test your brain strength. Your overall goal is to increase your smartness which in turn increases your brain matter’s size.
If you have had the chance to play any of the these type of titles on the DS you will most likely recognize how similar this game’s presentation is in comparison to the portable versions. That being said though, you will also notice how the game has been redesigned in key areas to fit the new home console feel. Right off the hop I have to say that playing the game with the Wii Remote just felt right. It never felt cumbersome and it actually complimented the games tasks. Something that I have to comment on is the use of the Wii Remote’s internal speaker. It is used for encouragement during gameplay (e.g. “you are in the lead”) and in one of the minigames that are included in the game where you place the Wii Remote to your ear, listen to customers order food and then duplicate their order on the screen. Overall I would have to say that Nintendo really made a seamless transition from the DS to the Wii, or in other words a seamless transition from the DS’s touch pad and stylus to the Wii’s innovative controller.
Upon first firing up the game, you are given an introduction to what Big Brain Academy is all about and how to sign in. You will then begin with a test which ranks your brain in five categories. These five categories are identify, visualize, compute, memorize and analyze. You are scored with an initial brain size in relation to how well you do in this test. This is used as a base score and it is up to you to improve from there. You can take solo tests or go into a multiplayer mode to play such things as mind sprint, mental marathon or brain quiz.
After sitting down with the game I would have to say that I do wish that here would have been a larger amount of challenges. My calculation indicates that within each of the five aforementioned categories there are a total of 15 different challenges. Now if you do the math that is not a whole lot as you will most likely find yourself seeing and playing the majority of these challenges in your first sitting with the game. Don’t get me wrong, these challenges will definitely keep you on your toes, but more is always better I say, and in a game of this nature I believe more could have only benefited the game overall. The available challenges themselves are all very enjoyable. One challenge I seemed to really enjoy was when I had to pop balloons with numbers on them and having to do so from the lowest to highest number. Other challenges I found to be quite enjoyable were laying out train track pieces from point A to point B figuring out where to turn and how to arrive at the final destination and using the Wii Remote to light up animals hiding in the darkness then selecting the one that I believe was represented the most on-screen.
Multiplayer is where this game also makes a positive impact as you can play with one or more friends. I actually had the chance to take this title home and played a few games with my wife. It was immediately evident that this game became somewhat popular in our household as she was actively challenging me to play against her after her first go with the game. Split screen mayhem ensued and I have to say that it was quite fun. Heck I even managed to hold my own again my better half who has the benefit of being a teacher and excels at many of the tasks that are incorporated into Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree. Should you be looking for more then just two player play, then have no fear as you can trade the two controllers between up to eight players, including two teams of up to four players each. Now I have to say that I didn’t get the chance to play any eight player mayhem, but the idea of having to pass your controller to your partners on your team would only add to the craziness of the game as you try to solve puzzles and then get your fellow team member the controller and allow for them to do the same. Nintendo has also chosen to offer very limited online support through their WiiConnect24 mode. Here your Wii will trade your player records with your friends who then can go into the mind sprint mode and compete against your score. Although limited online support is appreciated, I can just imagine what a game of this would be like against other people over the World Wide Web. Maybe next time.
Overall Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is a pretty good first entry of the Touch Generations onto Nintendo’s Wii. The familiar gameplay of the DS version makes the home console version that much better and I can’t help but recommend it to everyone no matter what level of gamer you consider yourself.