Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2008-06-02 PC Puzzle E (Everyone) Brighter Minds / Red Sprite Studios

With the massive success received by the Nintendo DS's Brain Age franchise, it's no surprise that more and more games in the "brain training" genre would begin to enter the market. Where Brain Age offered a portable way for players to test their mental acuity, Brainiversity offers much of the same to the PC market.

Brainiversity is an outwardly simplistic brain-training title that offers up to 6 different players the chance to "stimulate their brains" through four major areas: language, math, memory and analysis. There are 16 different activities in all, ranging from basic math problems that require players to choose the appropriate sign (plus, minus, etc.) to fill in a set equation to more complex, visual tests that measure your ability to memorize the shape and color of random objects.

After each activity, you are given a grade which goes on your overall report card. Using this report card, you can keep track of both your overall progress (on a daily basis or longer), and your progress on each individual activity. However, grades are much more complex than simply grading your ability to answer questions correctly, as the time it took you to answer each question also comes into play. That is, if you only complete ten math problems in a minute and a half, you are going to receive a lower score than if you completed 20, even if you got all ten questions right.

Since the game grades you not only on accuracy but also on speed, receiving a grade of 90% or above becomes a much more difficult task to achieve, and as such, garners you a special stamp, which can be seen alongside your report card. While earning these stamps isn't mandatory, it does offer players a challenge and an eventual goal to achieve.

While Brainiversity could be looked at as a simple clone of games like Brain Age, the game does offer more than just dual-grading to set itself apart. While some activities are reminiscent of other titles, others are quite unique. One of these tasks has you looking through a grid of random images trying to find the one true pair among them. Others expand on simpler tests that have you guessing how many black words there are by adding in alphabetization and counting the number of times a specific letter appears in a group of words.

Being that brain training games tend to focus more on the causal gamers in the market, and even those that wouldn?t consider themselves gamers to begin with, I was a bit surprised to see that the game takes on such a retro appearance. While the minimalist graphics do make the game very easy to play, in that there aren't crazily patterned backgrounds to distract the player, I wouldn't think that the plain look would be very effective at drawing in players either.

Either way, once you begin playing the game, you'll be met with the aforementioned minimalist graphics, comprised of a standard notebook paper background and very large text bubbles throughout. The images used for matching tasks look like they came out of a late 90's clipart folder, and even Edison, your talking light bulb guide through the game, looks as if he has been hand-drawn.

However, the simplistic graphics here aren't all bad, as they make the entire game look and feel very streamlined. A lack of clutter allows players to jump right into the brain-training of it all, which is, of course, where the true fun here lies. The same can be said about looking past the sound department, which is comprised of mainly soothing (instrumental) elevator music. A nice touch does present itself as far as the sounds are concerned however, when the music is stopped entirely during the middle of an activity, as fewer distractions mean higher grades.

All in all, I can see how Brainiversity could be considered similar enough to its competitors to hinder an immediate recommendation. However, the game does come with a few key differences which add more challenge and a level of potential growth not seen in similar titles. In the end, Brainiversity offers mounds of entertainment to those in love with the genre, and if all games in this realm come with the same quality as Brainiversity, I say the more the merrier.

Special thanks to Emily Schaeff and Brighter Minds for providing a copy of this title.