Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is a sequel to Big Brain Academy, the hit 2006 Nintendo DS title that put players through brainteasing paces. In this new version for the Nintendo Wii, you stretch your thinking muscles with 15 new games that test your ability to identify, memorize, analyze, compute, and visualize.
You enter the Big Brain Academy alone or travel these hallowed hallways with up to seven other students. Making a return performance, Dr. Lobe, the graduation-cap-wearing, ghost-like moderator from the original Big Brain Academy, greets all incoming students. He acts as your guide, but he will also goad you into playing his brainteaser games with some amusing malarkey about building a heavier brain.
While there are solo and group modes, the game boils down to a collection of mini-games. You can play the mini-games alone to train your brain, but this game is more fun when played in a group. You can also send your training scores to others over the WiiConnect 24 service so that your friends can try to beat your scores.
Each of the mini-games is short, uses the pointer ability of the Wii remote, and requires you to think. In one of the visualizing games, you are shown an incomplete version of a sample painting. Using the Wii remote, you must stamp the missing components onto the painting. A computation game requires you to pop numbered balloons in order from lowest to highest. On the easy levels, there are only a few balloons on the screen; but on the harder levels there are more and some even have negative numbers.
What sets this compilation of mini-games apart from other Wii mini-games like WarioWare: Smooth Moves and Wii Play, is the intellectual challenge of the game play. These are games about thinking. And while that may seem to be a turn-off for some, the games are actually fun. Kids who tested the mini-games actually got into playing them. Others, who have been intimidated by the hand-eye coordination needed to be good at video games will find this game’s simple pointer controls easy to master and will jump right in.
But Wii Degree isn’t perfect. There are three areas for group play, but only one area, Mind Sprint, allows you to go head-to-head with other players in a split-screen where you vie to see who can correctly answer 12 questions. Otherwise, the multi-player action is about taking turns with one controller, which just isn’t as much fun as all being in the action at once.
If you own a Wii and are looking for software to play in groups, especially cross-generational ones, add this game to your library. It is refreshingly different and one that levels the playing field between gamers and non-gamers.
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