Reviewed: February 21, 2008
Released: January 23, 2008
Yet another edutainment brain-training game for the DS, Mega Brain Boost is actually a compilation of the equivalent of three titles – Brain Boost Beta Wave, Brain Boost Gamma Wave, and a fresh set of five brain games new to this third incarnation of Majesco’s Brain Boost series. All told, there are 15 games to choose from, all exercises to boost memory and concentration based on the award-winning research of Makoto Shichida.
Mega Brain Boost consists of 15 different brain games designed to improve memory and concentration and focus on training the right side of the brain. The games included are these:
1. Remember Colors – “Colors are displayed for a short time. Select the same pattern of colors from a list of possibilities.”
2. Remember Numbers – “A number is displayed for a short time. Select the same number from a list of possibilities.”
3. Remember Circumstances – “Several images are displayed for a short time. Select the image that doesn’t appear from a list of possibilities.”
4. Remember Faces – “A face is displayed for a short time. Select the same face from a list of possibilities.”
5. Remember Images – “Several images are displayed in sequence before disappearing. Select the image that doesn’t appear from a list of possibilities.”
6. Finding a Match – “Several pictures are displayed simultaneously. Touch the matching pair before time runs out.”
7. Shape Recognition – “From the list of possibilities, select the picture that corresponds to the black and white sample tile.”
8. Match the Kanji Characters – “Match the Kanji character on the left side of the screen with the same character from the group displayed on the right.”
9. Remember Sequence – “Several pictures are displayed in order. When asked, ‘Which picture appeared [order within the sequence] in the sequence?,’ touch that picture.”
10. Moving Dots – “From the list of possibilities, select the number of dots that are moving about on the screen.”
11. Dots – “From the list of possibilities, select the number of dots on the screen.”
12. Colors – “Select the most colors from the list of possibilities.”
13. Find the Goal – “Select the goal where the spaceship will end. Follow the corners until the goal is reached.”
14. Total Amount of Money – “From the list of possibilities, select the total amount of money of the coins displayed.”
15. Addition – “Several cards will line up. From the list of answers, select the correct sum of the numbers on the cards displayed.”
Though there are no hidden games to unlock, each training game has 10 levels of difficulty, and the difficulty level will automatically ramp up if the player is doing well during any given session. Similarly, the difficulty will decrease if the player is having a hard time with increased difficulty. Finally, players can attempt to beat previous scores once they have achieved 100% right brain development (according to the game software, at least) in any given mini-game. Sadly, the game doesn’t really seem to track your improvements over time; it only keeps your highest scores.
Besides the regular training mode, a multiplayer option is also available for you to challenge up to three other people at once to one of the mini games, and a difficulty level from 1-4 may be selected. Each player will need his or her own MBB game card to play, however, despite the simplicity of the games.
The interface is completely stylus-based, even though redundant controls using the d-pad and buttons may have increased the intuitiveness of gameplay. Additionally, some of the on-screen buttons are a bit small, making it easy to occasionally hit the wrong selection by accident, but the games are simple enough that it’s not too bad.
Overall, MBB is a decent brain-training edutainment title, but despite 15 different mini-games, a lot of the games play fairly similarly to each other. Nonetheless, the selection offers some variety, and for those interested in edutainment-type titles, there will probably be a little bit of something for everybody.
MBB’s graphics are bright and bold, never leaving the realm of 2D cartoon sprites and menus. The simple look and straightforward presentation is appropriate for a title likely to be played by casual gamers and kids, and, in general, the user interface is very easy to read and navigate.
The background music to this title is admittedly repetitive; the same ambient loop of delicate and soothing electronic tones plays over and over during every mini-game. It manages to remain appropriately in the backdrop, however, and never quite becomes annoying, though some occasional variation might have been preferable. The sound effects, too, are suitable, but nothing terribly exciting.
For a casual brain-trainer, MBB isn’t bad, especially for the bargain price of $19.99 for 15 mini-games. It’s definitely a title that can be easily picked up and played for short bursts of time every once in a while, but this probably isn’t a game that you’d want to play for hours at a time. In fact, for many gamers, MBB is unlikely to have lasting appeal, since the games tend to be simple, repetitive, and somewhat similar to each other. Furthermore, there aren’t any secrets to unlock or codes to trade with friends, and it’s a shame that there’s no download play for friends who don’t own the cartridge. Otherwise, for an inexpensive personal pick-up-and-play educational title, this one’s not a bad choice.
For a casual or infrequent gamer looking for a way to improve memory and concentration, Mega Brain Boost could be a satisfactory choice, especially for the number of mini-games included. It may lack some of the refinements (such as development tracking or download play) that would have made it a more attractive choice, but for the price and genre, you could probably do worse.