Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Big Brain Academy for Wii (Wii) Review

The Brain training craze has been sweeping the world for the past two years now, with Brain Training starting it all off in Japan back in 2005 and its younger brother, Big Brain Academy proving popular as well on the DS. Considering the handheld game was far inferior to the more structured and clinical Dr. Kawashima effort, now the latter is making a move onto Wii, can it increase its appeal or does this highlight even more why BBA cannot hold a torch to BT?

Well, for starters the game certainly is not Wii-worthy in terms of visuals, but then again the 'non-gamer' style games rarely are, especially with the likes of Wii Play and Wii Sports being as basic as you can get and even the upcoming Wii Fit taking the same direction. Everything is very plain in the fact that there are various Mii characters running around a simple University hallway and that is about it, but there is a plentiful supply of sickeningly bright colours in the tasks themselves, if you like that sort of thing. The music is instantly forgettable as well, aiming squarely at being 'non-offensive' to please the crowds, meaning that presentation-wise on the whole things are not extremely positive.

Screenshot for Big Brain Academy for Wii on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

But hey, these brain games are all about the stimulating content that makes your brain better, and gives you some entertainment for your money as well, right? Well, you would think so, sure. However, after playing the perfectly refined More Brain Training recently, moving onto BBA for Wii was a major comedown. This game is such a disappointment, really in the same way that the DS version of it was extremely limited as well. Now, though, it lacks even more appeal as it is on the big screen and cannot be played in short bursts whenever and wherever you are.

The games on offer are nowhere near as mentally arousing as those in Brain Training. The main game is broken down into five main categories: Identify, Analyse, Memorise, Compute and Visualise – and each is split into three tasks, with examples being pop the balloons from the one with the lowest number to the highest; knock out the numbered blocks so that those remaining add up to the number stated; watch red and blue balls fall into a basket and figure out if the same amount went in or if more blue or reds did; and remember the series of noises, words or numbers shown on the screen and then re-input them…but in reverse order.

Screenshot for Big Brain Academy for Wii on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The idea is that you complete the tasks in the five different categories and are then given a 'Brain Weight', with 1,400 grams being what the teacher of the game achieves and the maximum seemingly being 3,000. At least you can then compare you brain weight with friends and family at home or across the world (thanks to WiiConnect24 support). Sadly, all the tasks are just there on the table for you to play in one go and thus can become boring quickly and there is no real impetus to make you come back each day. Impressing some weird floating yellow teacher with glasses and no legs is not the same as Kawashima-san nearly crying at your massive daily improvements! Also, the idea of Brain Weight does not have the same impact as keeping your brain at the optimal age of 20, so again the lure of coming back to 'improve' yourself is somewhat lost, especially when the general advice given afterwards is so bland and predictable (for example, do well on the Analyse side and you will be told that apparently you are good at analysing things! Wow, masterful...). Finally, all the tasks hardly stretch you, in particular the likes of the 'Whack-a-Mole' style affair and the 'Find the birds under the cages' one where the concealed bird is switched around and you must follow it quickly and point out its final position are laughable. However, at least the Wii controller input works splendidly, with everything being point-and-click related, making navigation a breeze.

Screenshot for Big Brain Academy for Wii on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Many say the main draw of BBA for Wii is the multiplayer aspect, which is all well and fine if you have the luxury of having mates round all the time or a family unit that does not mind dropping daily tasks to sit around and join in with you. Yet, again, the appeal of racing through different tasks to see who is the quickest, for instance, or taking part in a quiz that mixes up tasks (plus adds a couple of extras, such as one where food/drink orders are spoken to you via the Wii-mote's speaker and need to be remembered) will also grow tiring very quickly, leaving BBA with nothing much to offer. So sadly, until Nintendo gets the good ol' doctor on the case for Wii, it would be hard to recommend this to anyone other than large family units that have younger children looking for some simple brain activities.

Screenshot for Big Brain Academy for Wii on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

The use of the Wii controller is very well implemented and addition of WiiConnect24 is extremely pleasing. Shame the tasks on offer are too limited, though.

Graphics

Very rudimentary, but plain and simple in the vein of other Wii 'non-games' to appeal to those who do not like over exuberant visuals (it seems).

Sound

Again, basic, simple, and all very inoffensive for the audience it is aiming at. So, in other words, it is totally forgettable.

Value

With five categories, each with simple three tasks, things become stale very quickly. Even the extra options for multiplayer grow boring soon.

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Average

About this score

Big Brain Academy seems destined to live in the shadow of the true master, Brain Training. This Wii edition may add nice pointing controls and an interesting multiplayer aspect, but they really are not enough to justify the cost of the game in the slightest. The Japanese have already chosen to basically overlook this one, playing the waiting game instead, and it seems they made the right decision...

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22.07.2007

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Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (7 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Nice review Adam. :Smilie I'm not interested in this one in the slightest, but I'd disagree on the DS front - I found the handheld version to be equally good, if not better, than Kawashima's first effort.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Really? Ugh, I just got so bored so quickly with that DS game...it's miles better than the Third Party crap that's on offer, but I quite like the sterile BT - must be related to my personality Smilie :roll:

:lol:

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

It was a bit childish, but I thought it was a nice partner to Brain Training - could dip into either depending on your mood. Still, I own the Kawashima titles and no longer own BBA, so I guess that says something. Smilie

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Big Brain Academy always struck me as a strange name as well...I don't know why they didn't stick with the Gentle Brain Training moniker. Perhaps they really wanted to differentiate between the two 'series'.

By the way, glad the corny 'Wii Degree' title was dropped for Europe.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

It may be because I'm a girly but I found it a really good game to play.

Once you get 3 golds in your category it unlocks a new game. For instance, once you've popped the numbered balloons, you then get a level where you have to pop balloons with fractions in!

Also, I found it fun trying to improve my score to receive Platinum medals!

I also look forward to improving my test results to progress from a B-- rating.

I am now on A-

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