Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain Review: There’s an app for that

Big Brain Academy: brain versus brain

RRP $ 30.00

“Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is a shockingly addicting collection of brain teasers, but a lightweight package makes it hard to sell.”


  • Addicting gameplay

  • Clever brain teasers

  • Intuitive touch controls

  • Good use of ghost data


  • Savings package

  • Limited multiplayer mode

  • Online game missing

Would have Big Brain Academy: brain versus brain Introduced on phones, it would have instantly become my favorite among Nintendo’s mobile apps. The combination of quick challenges and intuitive touchscreen controls makes the platform a breeze. I could imagine breaking it out every time I found myself in a long line for shopping, filling a few minutes of boredom with some airy brain teasers.

It is not available on my iPhone, however, because it is exclusive to Nintendo Switch. That puts the $ 30 release in an awkward position. While the Switch is portable, it’s not as easily accessible as a phone that is always in my pocket. The game makes good use of the Switch in two-player battles, but Nintendo missed an apparently obvious opportunity here. It’s like putting a circle in a square hole; technically it fits, but it is not the right solution.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is a shockingly addicting collection of brain teasers that is perfect for players of all ages. As fun as it is, it’s hard to shake the feeling that it is on the wrong platform and too expensive for such a sparse package.

Love your brain

If you don’t remember the Big Brain Academy series, you are probably not alone. A spin-off of the popular Brain Age series, the puzzle game debuted on Nintendo DS in 2005. It was a nifty learning tool where players increased their “brain mass” by completing a series of mini-games based on various cognitive skills. A 2007 Wii sequel attempted to expand it into a party game, but that was the end of the line for the franchise.

It’s finally making a return on Nintendo Switch, but not all that much has changed. It’s still a sleek package built around some focused hooks. The game’s test mode is outstanding, in which players tackle five random, one-minute micro-games, the results of which determine their “Big Brain Brawn” score. It’s shocking how many miles you can get out of this easy mode. The brief nature of the tests made me say “just one more” over and over while trying to beat my best lap.

Big brain academy: Brain vs. Brain, two players compete against each other in a mini-game.

This also works thanks to the mini-games themselves, which are easy to understand and fun. In a game, I immediately have to memorize a sequence of digits and enter it into a calculator. In another, I need to pop numbered balloons in the correct order, from lowest to highest. A personal favorite shows me a figure and asks me to deduce what it would look like from a different angle. They are easy enough for a child, but the intensity increases with quick, correct answers. I itched to master each and every one of the game’s two high score hunting practice modes.

The brief nature of the tests made me say “just one more” over and over while trying to beat my best lap.

While the game can be played with buttons, it’s best to use the Switch’s touchscreen to enjoy it. Each mini-game has intuitive inputs, such as turning a clockwise to set the correct time or swiping to get numbers from a column. It’s an extra kick of interactivity that makes every game an excellent experience.

The real disappointment here is that the game doesn’t really work Use the switch Furthermore. There are no mini-games built around motion controls or the Joy-cons’s IR sensors. Most of the 20 mini-games are from the previous Big Brain games, so this feels more like a quick compilation than a new game designed with the Switch in mind.

Battle of the brains

As the subtitle Brain vs. Brain suggests, the game has a competitive aspect. What is strange, however, is that the multiplayer options are flat compared to the Wii rate. While this game had four different modes, the Switch version basically has one. Up to four players compete against each other to see who can complete a mini-game the fastest. The first to reach 100 points wins. Players can either select the mini-game category or spin a random wheel, but that’s the range of options too.

There’s also no traditional online multiplayer, which is an odd omission.

The best use of multiplayer results from two players competing against each other on a switch with touch controls. Lay it flat and the screen will split in two so players can sit across from each other and tap their side of the screen to play. It’s a cute little trick that makes good use of the device itself.

There’s also no traditional online multiplayer, which is an odd omission. Instead, the online game takes place in the form of a single player mode “Ghost Clash”. Every time a player completes a mini-game, their ghost data is recorded. Ghost Clash allows players to compete against the ghosts of their friends and families for an asynchronous competition. It’s not exactly a substitute for real online gaming, but it is at least a clever way to keep track of friends.

A player collides with an online mind in Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain.

The best implementation of the system is the World Ghosts option, where players can compete against random ghosts from around the world. Defeating a ghost grants trophies that increase a player’s Big Brain World Ranking (a kind of monthly leaderboard). Since these are fights against real players, they are pleasantly tense as they require quick thinking and even faster reaction times.

Could be an app

There isn’t much more to say. What I’ve described is the range of game features: testing, practicing, World Ghosts, and the flat multiplayer mode. The only other extra is that the game includes 300 unlockable items, such as hats and accessories for a player’s avatar. Unlocking each one would take a while, although doing so would require playing the same 20 mini-games over and over.

At $ 30, this is a budget Switch game, but that price still feels too high. Big Brain Academy worked on the Nintendo DS because touchscreen controls were a novel concept at the time (the first iPhone didn’t hit the market until two years after it was released). But there is no shortage of touchable brain teasers in 2021 that can be played for free on any phone. Brain vs. Brain is fun, but it doesn’t suggest someone is buying it instead of downloading it Lumosity app for $ 0.

A player pops balloons in Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain.

If Nintendo hadn’t been so stuck in its console habits, I think it would have been successful as a mobile app. All of the touch controls would be perfectly rendered on a phone screen, and even tabletop multiplayer could be replicated on an iPad. Locking it on Switch just feels like an unnecessary restriction in this day and age, especially as Nintendo is still struggling to realize its mobile gaming ambitions.

At $ 30, this is a budget Switch game, but that price still feels too high.

I probably ask more of the Big Brain Academy than anyone in history (but what do you want from an S-grade brain like mine?). It’s a video game franchise with as low stakes as you can get. Parents looking for an educational yet fun game to play with their kids will eat this up. It’s just a reminder that a Nintendo console isn’t and doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits-all platform for every type of game.

Our opinion

Big Brain Academy: brain versus brain would have more ideas in the “vs.” Department, but the core brain test is deceptively addicting. Intuitive mini-games and satisfying touch controls make for a fun, if sparse, collection of family-friendly brain teasers. It’s just hard to recommend when mobile apps are currently doing what it does for free.

Is there a better alternative?

WarioWare: Get It Together! is a more robust (but still leaner) package if you’re looking for Switch microgames, while the free Lumosity mobile app can get your brain training needs covered.

How long it will take?

Realistically, most people will likely spend a handful of hours doing this unless they intend to log in every day to keep up to date. Monthly challenges and unlockable items provide an incentive for those who want to stick with it.

Should you buy it?

No. I really enjoy it, but it’s just hard to sell considering how little is in here – though it’s a great choice for families looking for a fun educational tool.

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