E3 06: Big Brain Academy - hands on

By now, most of us have tried our hands, er, heads, at the daily puzzles of Brain Age. Its simple logic riddles tickled your mind, always offering feedback and letting you know how good or bad you've been performing over the weeks. Here comes the second round of gray gaming, but Big Brain Academy is leaning more towards younger minds. Instead of reading aloud or counting syllables, you'll be matching shapes and directing a hungry dog to his bone.

All of Big Brain 's activities take place in its Test mode. You begin with a five-part quiz that grades you in areas of thinking, memorizing, analyzing, computing and identifying. When it's over, you're given a letter grade and some sort of professional equivalent. For example, our first run through gave us a "C" and said we had the mind of a museum curator. Then we scoffed and wrote a little note to ourselves that the game was a jerk.

So what kinds of tests are we dealing with? We only played minigames that involved the touch screen, so there weren't any Brain Age moments of yelling into the DS' microphone. Some tests had us comparing two panels filled with coins, deciding which side was worth more - another was counting how many cubes were stacked onscreen. They were piled rows high and deep, so spatial knowledge meant as much as fast counting.

So, yeah, the tests aren't all that difficult, but again, Big Brain just likes to cut loose a little more than the doctor-endorsed Brain Age. Up to eight people can compete using just one copy of the game, pitting their hefty minds up against each other to see who's got the biggest ego of all.

Big Brain Academy starts its attendance on June 5, just a few weeks from now.

May 12, 2006