On the surface, Wii Degree looks like a total cash-in for brain training and multiplayer minigames. It's an understandable blend though, as they're two of Nintendo's most profitable concepts these days - why not mix them into one title and sell a frillion copies of it? Even though the premise is an obvious grab for lots more casual-player cash, the game remains a fun, frantic and family-friendly piece of software.
Challenges come in five flavors, each with three minigames apiece to test your knowledge and reaction time with identification, memorization, computation, visualization and analysis puzzles. You can try the minigames solo, increasing your overall grade and brain size (the heavier the better) or grab some friends and hit up the multiplayer. Improving your performance and letter grade is fun enough for a while, especially just to see what title the blobby Dr. Lobe hands out (we seem to have the brain patterns of marketing gurus, meteorologists, speculators, operators and fortune tellers), but the three multiplayer modes are where the action will inevitably stem from (be it a race to see who can complete a batch of minigames first or a board-game-style round-robin match).
When you're matching pictures, adding up blocks to reach a specific sum, identifying animals or analyzing 3D objects by yourself, it's mildly amusing. But throw in another player or two and the academic minigames become much faster and intense, thanks to the reactions of everyone else around you. Wii Degree supports any Mii you have on the system, so players tend to get more wound up when it's their own personal avatar getting trounced instead of some faceless game character.
Further egging you on is the "Remote Coach Approach," a gimmick that has the game talking to you through the Wii Remote. It'll chirp things like "Goob job" or "Analyze is next!" or, on the other end, "You were left in the dust!" The feature tends to make the Wii seem like an overpriced Speak 'n' Spell ("You're doing great!"), but there's no doubt that it makes the game seem more personable and charming - just what Nintendo needs to maintain its unquestioned stranglehold.