Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain - party games with extra brains

With nearly 20 million copies sold, Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain was an unprecedented and unexpected success for Nintendo when it hit the Nintendo DS 15 years ago. The huge success led to both sequels and the more light-hearted sibling series Big Brain Academy. A series that has now – after a remarkably long time – found its way to Nintendo Switch.

Train your brain!

As we take on Nintendo’s brain training again, there’s no earth-shattering news in store. Instead, we’re treated to the usual; addictive, minute-long, super-simple mini-games that require an alert brain to complete. The mini-games only take a second to understand but are incredibly difficult to master. It’s probably easier to succeed playing casino games in the many fast withdrawal casinos found here:

Trying to accumulate as many points as possible by thinking correctly and quickly is both harder and more fun than it looks. For example, we have to place the correct rails for a train, set the clock, match shapes, count cubes, count maths, memorize ugly animals, choose what doesn’t fit and more. In total, there are 20 different mini-games divided into five categories. Thanks to multiple levels of difficulty, each mini-game can be adapted to anything from three-year-olds to something that would give the memorization champions nightmares.

Completing the different mini-games and seeing the results climb steadily upwards is a doubly rewarding feeling. Partly because they’re fun, and partly because our improvements feel like something we can use in the real world. Whether our brains really do get better, or whether the improvements mostly stay in that particular mini-game, we’ll leave unsaid.

Adult at the children’s table

Unfortunately, we have to say, the setting in Big Brain Academy: Brain VS Brain is colourful and often childlike like the previous Brain Academy games. Because game-wise, nothing here is specifically aimed at children – it’s suitable for all ages. It would have been great to have the option of a more sober design for those who want it, something more like the first Brain Training game for the Nintendo DS.

Now, the look is a quibble that doesn’t exactly make the puzzling any worse; it’s mostly an unnecessary distraction.

The more, the merrier

Something else that’s distracting, but in a more fun way, is other players in multiplayer mode. The mini-games are the same as playing alone, but having up to three human opponents next to you gets the adrenaline pumping. When we see an opponent doing well out of the corner of our eye, it suddenly becomes very difficult to count to eight or see the phasing of the house.

The most convenient and fun way to play together, at least for two people, is to have the Switch lying on a table (or legs) between the two players and use the screen as a control. This way, you can play it almost anywhere, and it’s as easy as it is entertaining. However, one concern that arises is that the Switch can’t sense two taps simultaneously, leading to incorrect registrations and lost points. Annoying but still smoother and more accurate than using a controller.

One clever feature is setting individual difficulty levels for everyone playing together. This way, young, old, smart and bleach-drinking people can all compete at an appropriate level together. Big Brain Academy is simply built for the whole family to join in the fun.