The Insight: Is Playing Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain A Smart Or Dumb Thing To Do?

By Jeison Liranzo

Is Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain worth it? It depends. Big Brain Academy is a puzzle and trivia video game developed and published by Nintendo and released about a month ago. To be honest, I didn’t really like playing the game by myself. Since it was mostly made up of mini-games made for little kids, and I wanted more of a challenge. But it was fun to play with family members, and I did like the high-rank version, because when you reach a high-rank everything becomes more difficult. To receive that higher rank, players have to battle other people, making the game more competitive, which I enjoyed because I myself am very competitive. The amount of rank points people receive depends on the number of challenges they get right or wrong. As I played, I realized one thing: the ranking system is harsh. 

The controls of the game are simple. For most of the games, all you had to do was use the wheel to move to the answer and press A to select it. My favorite mini-game was “What Is This?” in which an image of an animal starts to form, little by little, and players have to guess which fauna it is. I always won that game, and I found it interesting because it tested my memory; I’m horrible at remembering the names of things and this helped. There was another version of this game in which the images were blurry – I liked that one even better because it was more difficult. My second favorite mini-game was “Repeat on Reverse!” Here, players have to remember the order of random letters or numbers, and instead of selecting them in the same order that we see them (first to last), we have to select them starting from the last number or letter we saw. For example, if the number were 432 we would have to write them down starting from the last number 2 so it would be 234 but on the screen, it still shows that you wrote 432 even though you started writing from 2. I liked this one because I’m pretty good at memorizing things for a short period of time, so I always had an advantage. I also appreciated that each player was able to choose their own level of difficulty. While I was playing in advanced mode, my opponent could play as a beginner, which made the game appropriate for both of us by leveling out our skills. 

Conversely, my least favorite game was “Which Picture Fits the Description?” Here, players view four images and have to select the image that best fits a prompt. This game forces players to act faster than they think, which does not come naturally to me at all. As a result, I lost a lot of my matches. And it made me aware that this game can test everyone in some sort of way and help people improve in areas where they’re lacking. Ultimately, I thought the most important part of this game was the flexing: people flex over their victories whenever they have that opportunity. When you lose and other people flex on you; it’s the worst. It made me bitter, but it also made the game more entertaining. 

The graphics in Brain vs. Brain are cartoonish, like the characters in “Paper Mario.” Everyone can create their own little characters, which sit in a button in the middle of the screen. Your opponents can see this inventions, and you can see theirs. You can also earn clothing for your characters, some of which – like the mustaches and goggles – I found very amusing. I especially liked the mortarboard accessory and the cat character. The soundtrack of the game was amazing and added a lot to the experience. Playing against my siblings always turned into a dance battle, because I was easily distracted by the music (which happens in all the games I play). The songs I vibed with the most were the title track, “Party A” and “Party C” because they sounded really funky. “Party C” reminded me of a song I’ve heard in Nintendo’s “Donkey Kong” game. 

Overall, Big Brain Academy: Brain Vs. Brain is an enjoyable game as long as you can play with someone you know. The interactions are the biggest draw. If you have no one to play with, the game can get boring very quickly. So I’d only recommend the game if you can recruit friends and family to play against you, which makes the game a lot more fun.  

Jeison Liranzo is a New York Videogame Critics Circle contributor, part of our ongoing partnership with the DreamYard Project.

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