It would be easy to say that brain training games belong solely on handhelds. More specifically, that they belong solely on Nintendo’s DS. It is, after all, uniquely designed to accommodate such titles, with its touch screen, dual displays and microphone. But that would be wrong; these games can exist on other consoles. They just need to be designed properly. Unfortunately, Brain Challenge really isn’t.
Brain Challenge takes its cues from Brain Training on the aforementioned Nintendo DS. Compete in a bevy of minigames designed to measure and expand your cranial capacity - be it discerning which object is heavier than another, simple math problems, memorization exercises, or simply guessing things like which ball is bouncing the highest in a series. Players can play the minigames however they like, though the game does offer a daily training setup that actually tracks your progress. The similarities to the DS games are endless.
But three things in particular kill Brain Challenge. First and foremost is the presentation. This is an Xbox 360 game. Granted, it’s a budget title of sorts, but still, the past couple of years have taught us that Live Arcade games don’t have to be ugly. Everything in Brain Training is flat and uninteresting. You get the feeling the developers spent little-to-no time trying to take any sort of advantage of the platform.
The second problem is the control. It’s too touchy in general, and you’ll end up doing poorly in some challenges based solely on the fact that your cursor raced right past the correct answer without you noticing.
Finally, the challenges just aren’t that interesting. This probably has a lot to do with the presentation, but either way, none of them are very engaging.
Brain Challenge attempts to tap a market that definitely exists and is desperately wanting on the Xbox 360. But it’s such a half-hearted attempt that you should save your 800 Microsoft points for something more worthwhile.
Mar 17, 2008