Nintendo’s training games are a huge part of the DS’ success. The handheld has shown that it can hold its own when it comes to the more traditional style of game as well as the new direction of “casual” games. Training games are all the rage in Japan, and it all started thanks to Nintendo’s own Brain Age and Big Brain Academy. Titles like these have meant big bucks for Nintendo. They even formed their own branding for games like this, which we know as Touch Generation titles. It’s no surprise that Nintendo wanted to continue this success on the Wii. The control scheme provides a unique yet simple tool for anyone to get into a game. That’s why we have seen the Touch Generation series head to the Wii as well. One of the first true training games on the Wii comes as the pseudo-sequel to Big Brain Academy on the DS. Will the Touch Generation success on DS translate to big sales for the Wii? I honestly don’t know the answer at that. BBA:WD is the first real attempt at seeing if the portable market will bite at the same ideas when brought to a console. The GoNintendo team spent the better part of today diving into the game to see if it contains that same spark that the DS version had. None of us were expecting the ultimate gaming experience…we were just looking for some good old brain fun. So far it seems that Big Brain Academy has survived the handheld to console transition, and may actually have been bettered in the process.
If you played BBA on the DS, than you should have a very good idea of what to expect from Wii Degree. Dr. Lobe returns once again to help us better ourselves through mental exercises. He will be testing you on 5 separate areas of interest; identify, analyze, memorize, compute, and visualize. By taking tests you can find out what areas you excel in, and what ones need a little bit of work. There are also practice sessions to partake in. If you don’t do too well in a particular area of a test, you can visit that section in the practice room. You can even practice a specific element of each test section. For example, if you are having trouble with one particular brain game in the identify category, you can visit the identify practice section and work on that one game. Dr. Lobe keeps track of how well you do in your tests, and will break down each section for you. Your final test score comes in two versions. First up, you are shown how much your brain weighs in grams. Dr. Lobe tells you that the average for a first time player is around 750 grams. On top of that, Dr. Lobe will give you a letter grade based on your overall performance. From that point on it is up to you to work to get a better score.
Today was quite a big day at the Big Brain Academy. Nintenho, MomBrain, RawMom & Dad, Nintenho’s friend, and I all enrolled in classes. We decided we should all take a test first instead of practicing. We wanted to get a good idea of just how much work we needed. No one was allowed to watch anyone else taking their test. We didn’t want to skew anyone’s results. I had seen the game before through screens and media events, but I never actually got my hands on it. I took my test first, which runs through all 5 sections of the game. All in all, the test took about 10 minutes. Throughout the day everyone else followed. As far as controls are concerned, no one needed any explanation. The most complex situation that ever comes up is hitting the A button. You pretty much point and hit A, that’s all there is to it. After everyone was done, we headed over to the student scores section. This is a graph that shows you how well you did on your last test. If you put your cursor over each player’s Mii face you can see a more detailed breakdown. As Dr. Lobe stated, 750 grams is the sweet spot for your first test. RawDad fell short of the 750 goal, which he blames on “being tired”. Everyone else managed to meet or exceed the average. The highest score happened to be mine, which came in at around 1,200 grams. Dr. Lobe says that the first week average is to hit 1,400 grams, so we all have a work cut out for us.
Now that you have your first test score, you can head into the practice room. As I stated earlier, this room lets you practice any of the games that are in each test section. When you pick one of the games you want to play, you are allowed to choose the difficulty as well. Each difficulty setting comes with an open slot for a medal. If you manage to reach a certain gram count during your practice session, Dr. Lobe rewards you with a medal. I’ve seen bronze, silver, and gold…I am not sure if there is anything higher than that. The more you practice, the better you should be getting at these specific games. As far as I know, you also unlock new brain exercises by completing these practice sessions. At the start there are three games in each brain category. If you take all those and factor in the easy, medium, hard difficulties, you actually have a lot of work ahead of you.
We also tried out a couple of the multiplayer modes. It seems that the favorite multiplayer game was the Mind Sprint mode. This mode allows for up to four players, and pits you against one another. If you do have four players, you have to play as teams of two. The objective is to finish your test session before the other team. You can pick how many questions have to be answered before you complete the test. I believe the smallest amount you can pick is 12. You can also choose which section you want to take your test in, with one particular mode mixing in questions from all sections. The first person/team to answer 12 questions correctly will win. If you answer a question incorrectly you will not move towards your goal. The game is split screen, and in the middle is a line that keeps track of where each team stands. This way you can see just how far ahead/behind the other team you are. When playing as a two person team, each person answers three questions and then is promoted to hand the controller to their team mate. This mode was a lot of fun, and will only get better as more games are added in.
The other mode we tried out had us all working as a giant team. You can play with up to 8 people in this mode. Basically you have to answer 3 questions, and as long as you get them right, your team can move on. You have a timer for your play session as well. The faster you answer your questions, the more time you get added to your total. You can lose by either running out of time, or incorrectly answering a question. This game is a lot of fun as well, you just have to make sure you have a good team to play with! Split between Nintenho, RawMom & Dad, our games didn’t last too long. Let’s just say that the parental units weren’t pulling their weight! Even with the missteps and short play sessions we were still having fun harassing each other.
That’s all the BBA:WD playtime we managed to get in today, but it gave me a very good idea of what to expect from the game. I really don’t see why you wouldn’t like this game if you liked the DS version. It seems that everything that made the DS one fun is here, albeit a little more entertaining. The overall package seems more coherent, and the experience a lot more engaging. So far everyone that played definitely wants to keep up with game. Everyone followed through on Brain Age and BBA, so I expect the same to happen here. BBA:WD may not be a truly deep gaming experience, but it is one you could play everyday. Take a test, go for a few practice sessions, it could become part of your daily routine. I managed to make it through my 30 day regiment with Brain Age, and I see the same thing happening here. The good news is that the multiplayer is a lot easier to get going with everyone. The DS version could only be played multiplayer with friends that had a DS. Now you can all play on the same screen. I didn’t even touch on the pseudo-online aspects of the game either.
It will be interesting to keep track of the family over the next 4 weeks. Perhaps I’ll have to check back in then. As of right now, BBA:WD is a fun, simple, and entertaining game that translates well from the DS. Whether it will bring in the DS crowd remains to be seen. With all these new gamers enjoying the Wii, I am sure there is going to be a good amount of first-timers here.