Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain

Sadly this collection of challenges ends the year on a sour note for Nintendo.

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With the Switch having the magical ability to turn anything into gold, Nintendo has delved into the vault recently and revived some of its long-dormant franchises. WarioWare and Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training both made a return on the hybrid system earlier this year, and it's almost time for Big Brain Academy to also rise from the ashes. The latest installment, Brain vs. Brain, is the first in over 14 years, and as its title suggests, it introduces a more competitive focus to the series' signature mind-bending puzzles.

Just like previous entries, Brain vs. Brain has a catalogue of puzzles split over five categories (Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize) that players can practice to flex their cognitive abilities. During each exercise, you're only given 50 seconds to quickly find a solution, and the difficulty level rises with the more answers you get right. A lot of the fun in these games comes from battling against the clock and training your mind to solve increasingly complex challenges in a fraction of a second. If you slip up and select the wrong answer, you're deducted points, so it's important you carefully think each answer through.

The mini-games featured in Brain vs. Brain are, however, a mixed bag - and to add insult to injury - there are only 20 available. Some of the more engaging picks include Match Blast, which tasks you with breaking blocks to match a shape on screen, and Whack Match, a game of whack-a-mole, where you have to hit moles carrying the correct objects. The weaker games of the bunch feel like math homework and are a chore to complete. For example, Cubegame has you select the correct number of cubes on screen, and Tick-Tock Turn requires you to turn the hands of a clock by the time stated. These types of games are supposed to test you mentally, but I expected more creativity than an old school textbook.

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I was also surprised to see that the bulk of these exercises have been lifted from Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree - the last title in the series. This essentially means that if you picked up Wii Degree more than 14 years ago, you've essentially seen the bulk of what Brain vs. Brain has to offer. Sure, at £24.99, it is a budget release, and a brand-new audience of younger gamers will likely be picking it up. Still, it just feels pretty lazy that the limited selection of mini-games are identical to what we had back on the Wii.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain

Brain vs. Brain differs from its competitors, though, as it has adopted more of a multiplayer focus. Up to four players can compete against each other head-to-head, and everyone involved can select their own difficulty settings, which is perfect for families. If you're playing with two players then you can opt to use the touch controls in handheld mode, otherwise, you will have to resort to using Joy-cons or a pro controller. Battling against friends and family helps to add an extra layer of tension to these timed mini-games, and they are pretty fun to play with others due to how rapidly they are completed.

If you are playing solo, though, then that doesn't mean you'll be without a competitive challenge. Ghost Clash enables you to play against the ghost data of your friends, family, and random players from around the world. It might sound pretty spooky, but essentially what happens is that the game creates a ghost from your player habits and then unleashes it to the world for others to challenge. These ghosts will contain data such as which categories you are the strongest and weakest at playing. Alongside ghosts, there are also online rankings for each exercise and tests that challenge you across various categories.

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Beyond practicing these mini-games, taking tests, and playing against your friends, there sadly isn't a great amount to do here. If you collect gold coins on all the exercises in practice mode, then you unlock a super practice mode where all activities start on advanced class, but this is more of the same but harder. There are also dozens of cosmetics you can earn for your avatar simply by playing and earning gold coins, but my interest in these dipped quickly, as your avatar does nothing but stand motionless on screen.

Sadly, Brain vs. Brain is a disappointing end to what has been a solid string of first-party releases for Nintendo in 2021. Its limited list of 20 mini-games have largely been torn from the 14-year-old Wii Degree, and it quickly runs out of steam fast due to its lack of content. Sure, with friends and family it can be fun in short bursts, but I can't imagine many people will be itching to come back to this one after more than a handful of sessions.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. BrainBig Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain
05 Gamereactor UK
5 / 10
It can be fun to play with friends and family in short bursts, Ghost Clash is an interesting take on multiplayer.
Its selection of mini-games is limited, many mini-games have been reused from Wii Degree, there is a limited amount of modes.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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