Wii Gets Smart With Big Brain

Friday, July 27, 2007

Leave it to the house that Mario built to expand its best-selling Brain Age games to its popular motion-sensor gaming console, the Wii. Nintendo offers a variation on the sequel to its hit Nintendo DS franchise with Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree.

Brain Age games, designed by a Japanese neuroscientist, are intended to improve thinking skills through an assortment of puzzles and quizzes that focus on five categories: visualize, compute, identify, memorize and analyze.

The touch-screen game has been revamped to incorporate the Wii Remote as a pointer for 15 new mini-game challenges. Games range from popping balloons of varying sizes based on numerical order, to guessing a picture that's out of focus, to playing a variation of whack-a-mole. While these challenges sound simple, they're jumbled together and timed for an experience that's anything but easy.

In addition to the single-player mode, there are multiplayer party games for as many as eight people using two Wii Remotes, pitting players one-on-one or in two teams of four. Wii's party games are a big reason for its success, and the frenetic experience they provide is present in this newest release. While the replay in single-player mode gets more repetitive than the Nintendo DS game, the multiplayer mode holds its own and is great for any social gathering.

The only downside is the price. Nintendo sold millions of Big Brain Academy games on Nintendo DS at $20 apiece. Charging more than double that for a game that doesn't feel as deep may turn off potential buyers.

-- John Gaudiosi

Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree Everyone; Wii ($50) Nintendo

© 2007 The Washington Post Company