Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain review Nintendo Switch

Nintendo has had its share of puzzle games over the years. It’s regularly published Picross titles since 1995 and had a huge hit with the Brain Age series. Big Brain Academy also has a place among these mind-bending titles, with an entry on the Nintendo DS and the Wii. Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain on Nintendo Switch seeks to further establish this brain-teasing franchise with fun minigames that can be played solo or in competition with others, and this review finds that it will really scratch your puzzle itch.

Buffing your brain

When you start Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain, you create an avatar with some help from Dr. Lobe, a professor who talks like an Animal Crossing villager and looks like a marshmallow with a degree. He guides you into the challenges and provides explanations, encouragement, and gentle judgement. You can choose to play by yourself or with up to four total players. The main game consists of 20 minigames, evenly split into five categories: Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize. These each test a different type of intelligence and are all fast-paced and fun. For example, there’s a tangram minigame in the Visualize category, and math games are at home in the Compute category.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain review Nintendo Switch

You’ll be able to take these on in Practice mode, where you can work on individual puzzles or play random ones as long as you would like. You’re given a score after each run, and if you do well enough on all the different minigames, you’ll unlock a harder Super Practice mode. There’s also Ghost Clash, where you can compete against recordings of other players, and Test, which will give you a minigame to play from each category and rate your mental ability. You’ll get points for playing, which result in getting new costume pieces for your avatar.

Focusing on quick minigames in rapid succession, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain is right at home on Nintendo Switch. It’s perfect for playing for a few minutes on the go, and I can imagine that it would be the highlight of my commute if I still traveled to an office on the subway. Normally Switch games play better in either docked or handheld mode, but I found both to be equally good experiences here. In handheld, you’ll have the option of using the touchscreen, but it only provided a different experience in one or two minigames. It’s also great for kids thanks to its cute and colorful visuals, as well as for older gamers who like to keep their grey matter spry. It’s truly a game for all ages, especially in multiplayer, where the difficulty can be adjusted to correspond to the age.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain review Nintendo Switch

Medulla mayhem

The biggest draw of Brain vs. Brain is, of course, the chance to compete with your friends to see who’s the brainiest. It’s a hallmark of the Big Brain Academy series, with Wii Degree having particularly fun multiplayer. In this title, there’s no way to compete directly online. You can, however, take on your friends’ recorded activities in Ghost Clash, as well as people from around the world and those who’ve played on your Switch. There’s a global ranking for World Ghosts that resets monthly.

Asynchronous online play is fine and all, but if you really want to prove who’s the brainiest, there’s couch multiplayer. Like the rest of the game, there are limited options, but Nintendo shot for quality over quantity. Once you’ve got everyone together, you can take turns choosing a minigame to play or spin a wheel to choose one at random. Once it starts, the race is on to see who can solve the puzzle the fastest. First to 100 points wins that minigame. Points are awarded based on fastest completion: 20 for first, 8 for second, 4 for third, and 2 for fourth. We found that this resulted in a bit of an uneven spread when it came to the final results, especially when most matches came down to a photo finish. However, with some tweaking, we found a sweet spot.

Feel like a smartypants

Besides competing against my best friend in puzzle games (and having some crazy close matches), my favorite part of Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain was how it felt like I was getting smarter after every run. I found myself thinking more clearly and seeing the world much more brightly than I did beforehand. While writing this Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain review and checking for details, I often got lost in a test or doing a few practice runs. It’s addicting in all the best ways, kind of like if WarioWare were edutainment.

I’m the kind of person who enjoys solving a few sudoku puzzles before bed, so Big Brain Academy fits into my lifestyle seamlessly. It’s great for gamers who like to hone their thinking skills in bite-sized chunks. While it’s a little light on features, it excels at what it does have and has a fun and adorable presentation. It’s a joy to play, whether you’re taking on a few minigames by yourself or using your beefy brain to win friendly contests. If you enjoy solving puzzles, competing against friends and strangers in tests of brainpower, or just keeping your mind sharp, this is definitely the game for you.

Release Date: December 3, 2021
No. of Players: 1-4 players
Category: Puzzle
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo

A Nintendo Switch review code for Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain was provided by the publisher.

Our review policy.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain

8.5

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is a puzzle game meant to strengthen your thinking skills in five different categories through fast-paced minigames. You can compete against friends or test your skills against other people's recorded attempts. It's a simple premise that succeeds thanks to adorable presentation and addicting mechanics, even if it's a little feature-light.

Pros
  • Makes you feel smarter when you do well
  • Minigames are fast-paced and fun
  • The visuals are adorable
Cons
  • Somewhat short on features
  • The scoring can feel a bit unfair
Dominick Ashtear

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