IGN Review of Professor Brainium's Games
The thing about budget games is that most puzzle game collections are already budget priced. So even though games like Professor Brainium's Games are only $20, there are bigger, better puzzle games out there that are the same price. So then it comes down to what makes this particular game unique. In the case of Professor Brainium... nothing. It's a mediocre puzzle collection in a sea of other mediocre puzzle collections.
Professor Brainium has five games: Sudoku, Cross Sums, Mahjongg, Mind Bender and Go. All of these games have been on the DS in one form or another, and most of them have appeared together in other compilations before, so it's nothing new or exciting.
Sudoku is sudoku. You probably have it already, and if you don't, there's no particular reason to get this one over any other. It has decent handwriting recognition, but it lacks the ability to mark potential answers within the square. The backgrounds change for each puzzle, things like ocean and jungle themes. They're a little loud and distracting, but do make the puzzles feel slightly different. These Sudoku puzzles are actually pretty challenging, which is nice, but at the same time really accentuates the unintuitive note-taking mechanic. A sudoku video game should at least have as many options as a cheap puzzle book I could buy in a gas station.
Cross Sums has a similar feel to Sudoku, but actually uses a bit of math. Players enter numbers into a crossword like puzzle, trying to get them to add up to the numbers at the end of each column and row.
Mahjongg is the classic Asian tile matching game that has seen a number of versions on the DS. This version seems to have a smaller tile set than many other versions, though on the hard mode there are quite a few.
There's also mind bender (aka mastermind), the classic "guess the colored ball sequence" game, and Go, a two player board game about capturing tiles.
Each game feels very different, like a different team worked on each one. Even the art styles at various points in the game change. Take Professor Brainium himself. On the box and the title screen he's a cartoony, crazy haired old coot with a monocle on his disproportionately large right eye. Once the game starts he becomes a crappy 3D model of Albert Einstein with only one jerky animation. It's weird and unnerving.
The game is underwhelming on all fronts. None of the games are bad, but they don't do anything to grab the player. These puzzles are fun, but they're also clichéd and overused. I like playing Mind Bender, but I need something unique to make me spend money on it and invest time. Otherwise it just Mind Bender, that game I play for free online, sometimes.
The presentation is lacking in places that matter. Go has no animations at all, so once a player puts his piece down, the computer plays a piece instantly. It never scrolls the screen to show where they put a piece, making it hard to strategize against this phantom opponent.
The rules are also really vague, so if someone doesn't know how to play these games, they're going to have a hard time picking it up. The difficulty is set for experienced players, so it's not an accessible game for people that may be curious about these games.
On the plus side, each puzzle has hundreds of levels across three difficulties. Players that love these puzzles have plenty of gameplay here. Though the AI in Go seems somewhat predictable, making the same basic moves at the beginning, and thus being easily adapted to.
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