Big Brain Academy
Louder and bubblier than Brain Age, but just as fun
We've been training our noggins with Brain Age for a couple of months now, but its clean-cut presentation and real-world interface seem remarkably quaint after firing up Big Brain Academy. The premise is the same - play touch-screen minigames that test your mind in several categories - but the wide variety of gameplay and overall personality may make Academy more exciting in the end.
Like Brain Age, there's no ultimate goal to achieve. Just keep playing the 15 activities until your score (or brain weight) in each increases to a new personal best. The minigames are divided into five categories: Think, Memorize, Identify, Compute and Analyze, each containing three simple, quick tests. They range from matching silhouettes to memorizing numerical patterns, but are presented in an overly cute, preschool-circus explosion of color and sound.
If you can get past weighing zoo animals and the vaguely human professor-thing that grades your progress, then there's a fair amount to accomplish here. You can bone up on your skills in the practice mode, earning medals in each test, then head into the actual game, where you complete one task at random from each of the five categories. Once you're done, the professor hands you a letter grade and then weighs your brain - the heavier, the better, obviously.
But with only 15 games to play, all ready to go from the start, your interest could run dry quicker than Brain Age, a game that forces you to keep playing to unlock new content. That's where the brain-busting multiplayer comes in - eight people can play with just one game card, with access to everything. Trying to out-count seven other people makes the intensity rocket through the roof, so hit up the multiplayer early and often.