When it comes to training games, I’ve stayed on the side of Nintendo-published titles only. Brain Age, Big Brain Academy, and all those titles. I never felt the urge to go third party when it came to those products. Just a few days ago I had the opportunity to try out one of the third party offerings. Mega Brain Boost is published by Majesco, and it actually includes 3 games on one cartridge. You get Brain Boost: Gamma Wave, Beta Wave, and an unreleased collection of games. While it’s nice to have all the games on one cartridge, the content just isn’t compelling.
Mega Brain Boost - The Good
If you are a die-hard when it comes to training games, Mega Brain Boost is quite a deal. Instead of spending money on Gamma and Beta Wave separately, you can now pick up those two titles, plus a third all in one package. The retail price is $20, but you can find it for $15 at a lot of locations. There’s no denying that that MBB is a much better deal than the single releases. You’ll get more content for a better price.
We pretty much all know how training games work by now, so the game doesn’t need much of an explanation. The activities included in MBB need next to no explanation. There are little bits of info that tell you how to take each test, but you don’t even need to read them. You can go right into the game, and you should be able to figure out what’s going on in a matter of seconds. Keeping things simple will help you focus on doing your best in the test, rather than wasting time being confused.
The controls for MBB work just fine as well. When companies release games like this, they are really reaching out to the expanded audience. In order to do that, the game ideas have to mesh nicely with the controls. MBB works just like Brain Age. Actually, I guess there are less control options to worry about. All you do is use the stylus, and touch your answer. That’s really the extent of your control for the game. Simple and to the point, can’t complain about that.
Mega Brain Boost - The Bad
Mega Brain Boost’s activities all feel very similar. There are different categories for the tests you take, but a lot of them will give you a feeling of deja-vu. Where Brain Age gives you new and varied activities to complete, MBB gives you a theme and then slightly changes how that theme plays out.
For example, one of the games will have you counting the number of balls moving around on the screen. The next test will have you doing the same activity, but this time the balls are moving around. Eventually, you move onto counting balls to find out which color ball is the most plentiful. With such a wide range of areas to take a game like this in, it’s a real shame to see some many repetitive ideas.
Unfortunately, these activities all take the same amount of time as well. You have a counter that gives you 120 seconds for every test you take. Your activity will increase in difficulty as you progress. If you get questions right, the difficulty goes higher. Get questions wrong, and you’ll move down a level. This always happens, and you always have 120 seconds to do it in. For some games, this feels like an eternity…while others it zips by. It is possible to answer all the questions in a category before time runs out, which I was always happy to achieve. The problem is, you become bored within that time limit…and you honestly don’t feel like continuing on. That’s topic is for more discussion in the next section.
Mega Brain Boost - The Ugly
As I mentioned earlier, Mega Brain Boost is quite repetitive. The major problem with this comes from the games themselves. The tests you take are never particularly interesting. There are a few stand-out activities such as counting coins and studying faces, but these are mixed in with adding, numerous memory games (remembering pictures, matching pictures, remembering the order of pictures, ect.) and pattern studies. The tests, for the most part, are very basic. The tests in Brain Age seemed to be much more entertaining, and they held your attention better. In comparison, MBB doesn’t seem to have much though put into it.
That might also explain why the game is over so quickly. You can see all there is to see in MBB in roughly 30 to 40 minutes. Each game lasts 120 seconds, there are 5 games in each section, and there are 3 sections. Add in some menu navigation, information reading, and name entering…and that puts you at about 40 minutes. You can go through and better your scores if you want (which are measure on a scale of 1-100, but by multiples of 20), but there’s really no motivation to do so. There’s also a multiplayer mode, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re playing the same games again. Playing MBB makes me feel really, really bad for those people that bought Gamma or Beta Wave separately.
Also worth noting is the lack of production value. I really don’t expect much from games like this, but even so, MBB feels extremely basic. They have some doctor/professor that sits on some of the screens, there are a few text bubbles…and that’s about it, minus the graphics for the activities. It’s a very uninspired package. Somehow, MBB makes the visual approach in Brain Age seem sophisticated. I guess the difference between the two titles is that Brain Age does minimalist in an attractive way…MBB does it in a cheap way.
If you absolutely, positively, must-have all the training games available for DS, then I guess you’ll need this game. It makes much more sense to buy this collection instead of Gamma and Beta by themselves. Still though, I feel you’ll be sorely disappointed with the package. There just isn’t enough to do here, even with 3 games in 1, and the price of $20. You can only go so far by improving your score, and all the activities are unlocked from the get-go. I honestly cannot see any reasons for you to come back to this game after the initial play through. That’s not to say that the game is broken, or that it’s absolutely terrible…it’s just not compelling. I think, at most…you could enjoy one day with MBB. After that, I believe you’ll start to regret the purchase.