Who says learning can’t be fun? Definitely not Nintendo, that’s for sure. Since its inception, the DS has seen a steady stream of highly accessible brain-training titles. Not content with the little one taking the non-gaming world by storm, the Wii finally gets its first brain-training title with an adaptation of a DS favourite - Big Brain Academy .
There are five categories to train your brain with here: identify, memorise, analyse, compute and visualise. With each faculty there are three mini-games that serve as your mental exercises. Do the math: five times three = not a heck of a lot of variety. Thus it does get boring after a while and without the advantage of being able to play/learn on the go, the overall appeal is much less compared to its handheld counterpart.
Some of the mini-games are pretty neat, though. One of them puts you in the shoes of a take-out employee, answering phone calls and taking customer orders. You then have to click on the relevant food items displayed to serve up a correct meal and ensure customer satisfaction. It’s basically a memory challenge, but it oozes plenty of style.
There are also some tougher, less attractive ones such turning the hands of a clock forward a certain number of minutes. It’s easy when it’s asking for 55 minutes later, but it’ll really strain your mental capacity when it asks for something in the region of 555! Another one involves a blurred image of an animal which becomes clearer over time, but the earlier you nail it the more points you earn. Activities like these are fun to play around with, but they have been done before and they do get old, fast.
Full statistical tracking in all five categories is provided to assess your current standards versus previous ones. You even get a read-out of what occupation would suit you the best based on your aptitude scores be it an improvisational actor or a doctor. It’s fun, but kind of useless in the long-term; I personally wouldn’t follow its advice.
As far as fun, learning experiences for the Wii goes, there isn’t that much choose from. Luckily Big Brain Academy is quite a competent entry that retains the same principles that made the DS version so popular while adapting various Wii-specific features to make Wii Degree a more complete experience. The selection of different activities is a bit on the light side and without portability, it’s not as easily accessible as its DS sibling, but this is still a solid first effort that’s sure to make smarter . . . well, at least a little bit.