One of the best new video games on the market requires you to take math tests. During summer break, no less.
But before you cue up Night on Bald Mountain and run like hell, you really should play Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree. Any party title that can hold a groups attention with counting, memorization, and logic puzzles is on to something.
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is the sequel to the surprise Nintendo DS hit. Not to be confused with Nintendos other educational handheld juggernautthat would be Brain AgeBig Brain Academy is the better option for multi-player action, though its kiddie graphics might fool you.
An odd little professorperhaps the bastard offspring of Mr. Peanut and Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poogrades your performance as youre tested in areas such as Identify and Compute. Its more fun than you're thinking: Youll use the Wii remote to pop numbered balloons from lowest to highest and pick the correct ugly kid out of a lineup, for instance. These point-and-click games are simple to play, but painstaking to master.
With only 15 mini-games in all, the single-player mode is too breezy to justify firing up your Wii; youll earn your degree with the speed of a Sally Struthers mail-order college. (By comparison, single-player mode works well on the DS version, because players can play in on-the-go bursts while, say, riding the bus or waiting in line to buy a Wii. But if you're tethered to a couch, it aint all that.)
Big Brain Academy really makes the grade when it comes to its three multiplayer modes, which allow up to eight brainiacs to compete at once; the fact you can use your personalized Mii Avatars to play is pure gravy. In Mind Sprint, youll race to be the first to finish up to 24 fast-and-furious brain busters. The competition intensifies when you realize losing doesnt mean you're bad at the gamejust that you're dumber than your friends. So unless your only pals are mouth-breathing troglodytes, prepare to be humiliated more than once.
"Mental Marathon" requires you to maintain a perfect score or youre out, and "Brain Quiz" cops a game-show format, in which you pick categories off the big board. The fun peaks with a game requiring you to hold the Wiimote speaker to your ear like a phone and take a restaurant order. At last, all the thrills of the McDonalds drive-thru can be yours at home.
Multi-player mode even allows a single player to compete against anyones previous high score. These races still unfold in real time, so its like playing against a friend who isn't sitting next to you. Or like playing, perhaps, against a giant imaginary rabbit. It's your business.
A terrific disclaimer greets players upon startup: Experience may change during online play. Thats right, Wii owners: Theres finally an online-supported game out there! Welcome to the 21st century, Nintendo.
But its no Xbox Live. You can only e-mail your brain score to anyone in your Wii address book, wherein he or she may play against you in the aforementioned ghost player mode. So while its neat to fly your big brain across the country and say, Beat this score, dude, the experience would be more fulfilling if it were actually happening, y'know, live.
Its hard enough to stand out from the mini-game pack, and even more so with a game whose premise puts your grade-school education to the test. Regardless, Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree graduates with honors.
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