Brain Assist Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Nintendo DS
Release date:
February 26, 2008

Brain Assist

It might be smarter to take a pass on this one.

Review by James Cunningham (Email)
May 3rd 2008

Despite all evidence to the contrary, people like to be smart. Not just filled with facts, but observant, clever, and quick on the uptake. Brain Assist is another in a long line of mini-game compilations designed to increase your cleverness, although it gets off to a bad start by trumpeting a right-brain workout throughout the box and manual while being filled with tasks that work both sides of the old grey matter equally. The left brain's logic and analysis have as much to do with these games as the right's intuitive nature, but precision and speed with the stylus end up being just as important to the scoring system. Is that really what a brain game is supposed to be testing?

Take the Number Mania mini-game, for example. A series of dots with numbers (and later on, letters) are arranged about the screen. Sometimes the dots are in a jumble of random positions and sizes, others times they're organized into tidy rows and columns. The task is to touch the dots in order, and that means finding the next one in sequence before time runs out. This isn't a big deal on the early levels, but later on when there are 20 dots on screen at once they get too small to hit in a hurry, and it's hard to be precise when there's less than half a second left on the clock.

Then there's the Match Game, where a series of symbols are arranged on the bottom screen. The top screen shows one symbol at a time divided up into pieces, and you need to mentally put them together and touch the matching symbol on the bottom screen. The symbols are cut into more and more pieces as you get closer to level's end, and clearing them all completes the stage. This might be difficult if the symbols at the bottom didn't disappear once selected, but when there's only three pictures left to choose from it's not hard to sort out the right one using only a small fragment of the total image. The real trick is picking out the right symbol at the start of the stage, when the layout is fresh and there's a lot of data to sort through, and that runs counter to what this challenge is supposed to be testing.

It's not that Brain Assist isn't amusing in its way, but with only 10 mini-games it really can't afford to stumble on any of them. Small problems in either the focus or execution nag at each one of the challenges, and the theoretically-cute nurse evaluators don't do much to alleviate the dry presentation. Brain Assist is mildly entertaining, but I'm not feeling any more clever for having played it.

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