IGN Review of Brain Quest: Grades 5 & 6
Quiz games have been the staple of my nerdy life for as long as I can remember. Trivial Pursuit was the family board game of choice. We watched TV on a couch my father won for being on Jeopardy. And during free time in Elementary School my favorite "school approved" game was Brain Quest. Back then it was a stack of long flash cards attached with a metal ring. These days the multi-level trivia game is presented in a more high tech digital way. Brain Quest: Grades 3 & 4 and Brain Quest: Grades 5 & 6 takes the same trivia game that's been around for over a decade, and crams it into your Nintendo DS in a pretty good educational game, as long as you like playing by yourself.
Brain Quest is a series of trivia questions across six categories: English, math, science, history, geography and grab bag (which is a medley of pop culture, music, food and other things). Points are awarded for right answers, as well as how fast the player answers the question. Cartoony hosts guide the player through the game, occasionally popping in to elaborate on certain answers, and teaching the player how to play.
The game can be played in a variety of ways, which is the strength of the title. There's a Quest Mode that has the player talk to other kids and complete quizzes in order to win competitions or help research something. Prizes are awarded during this mode, used for a customizable scrapbook in the game. There's also a simpler mode that lets players choose a category and the number of rounds and just hop into the quizzes.
Obviously if your kid isn't into trivia games, this is going to be boredom incarnate, but if you've got a little know-it-all Brain Quest offers a healthy selection of challenging questions. It's a little embarrassing, but I was stumped a number of times on some of these (do you remember who invented Velcro? Or what ancient the Aztec language is called? Or what the heck diatoms are?) The game employs multiple answering methods to keep the gameplay fresh. In addition to the obvious multiple choice, there is also pairs matching, putting answers in order, typing the answer out, and crossing out unneeded letters.
The biggest problem with Brain Quest is that focus is on single player, when it really ought to be a multiplayer focused game. Luckily there is a multiplayer mode, but it's pretty weak. Players can take turns passing the DS, answering the same questions and then comparing scores at the end. It's really a missed opportunity. Brain Quest as a deck of trivia cards was versatile, allowing kids to play however. The video game limits players into either taking quizzes by themselves, or playing the very basic multiplayer mode. This seems really crucial because the whole Brain Quest game is presented like it's a competition, and the original game was geared at being played with a lot of kids. I can answer trivia questions all day by myself, but at the end of the day only I, and my DS know how smart I am. And honestly, the real point of this is to brag about the size of your brain (come on, you know it's true).
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