In the early to mid 2000s one of the bigger trends in board games was the DVD game which was sparked by the success of Scene It. While Scene It is far from perfect, I find the game to be a guilty pleasure of mine since it actually did something new with the trivia genre. Due to Scene It’s success a lot of other companies tried to make their own DVD games. While some of these are pretty decent (Quip It), others are downright terrible (The Apprentice DVD Game) and were only made to make a quick buck. Looking at The Brain Game I assumed it was going to be in the later category but finding the game for only $0.50 made it still worth picking up. While it is far from perfect, I was a little surprised by The Brain Game.
How to Play The Brain Game
Each player grabs a game sheet and the DVD is inserted into a DVD player. To begin the game the players need to choose which game they want to play. The lower numbered games are supposedly easier than the higher numbered games.
Playing the Game
Each round of The Brain Game involves twelve different puzzles spread between five rounds. The value of each question is dependent on the round: round one-3 points, round two-5 points, round three-20 points, round four-8 points, and round five-16 points.
Some of the types of puzzles included in the game are as follows:
- Finding the exit to the maze.
- Figuring out a specific number in a Sudoku puzzle.
- Memorizing numbers shown on the screen.
- Determining which word doesn’t belong.
Each puzzle gives the players a limited amount of time to write down their answers. The answer to each question is shown afterwards and players keep track of their scores throughout the game. The player who scores the most points wins the game.
My Thoughts on The Brain Game
With The Brain Game basically being a DVD puzzle game, the quality of the puzzles is the driving factor in determining whether The Brain Game is a good or bad game. In general I would say that the puzzles are solid. While a lot of the puzzles are things you would find in other puzzle books/games, if you like brain puzzles you will probably like most of the puzzles. While these puzzles might not be highly original, the presentation is pretty good for the most part. The best puzzles are probably the unique puzzles though which includes a puzzle where you need to keep track of how many people are on the bus as the bus picks up and drops off passengers.
While the puzzles are pretty solid, I have a feeling that the game repeats the same type of puzzles quite often. I played two of the games and a lot of the puzzle types were repeated in both games. The Brain Game really likes Sudoku since both games that I played included two Sudoku puzzles. While the puzzles are solid, a little more variety would have been appreciated. I really can’t see playing more than two games in a sitting since I think it will get pretty boring doing the same puzzles over and over again.
Most of these type of games claim that by playing them, they will make you smarter. While I have doubts that The Brain Game will actually make you smarter, I think it could help you think quicker while solving puzzles/problems. Because the game gives you so little time to answer a lot of the questions, if you want any chance at improving your score you will have to get better at quickly analyzing the puzzles and coming up with a solution. While it was partially due to not knowing what to expect out of the puzzles in my first game, I did significantly better in the second game (which the game claims is more difficult than the first). While the game is not going to make you smarter overnight I can see some value in the game teaching you how to approach puzzles quicker.
As far as difficulty I would say that the game tries to remain moderately difficult. I wouldn’t say any of the puzzles are particularly challenging but the time limit on each question makes them more difficult because you don’t have a lot of time to analyze the puzzles. If this time limit was removed though the puzzles would be way too easy. While I like that the puzzles aren’t too challenging or easy, I don’t know if it was a great choice for the game. People who want easy questions might find the game too challenging. Players who want really difficult challenges will be disappointed that the puzzles are not that difficult. If you are looking for moderately difficult puzzles though The Brain Game may be for you.
The thing that confuses me the most about The Brain Game was the choice of time limits for the different questions. I don’t have a problem with the idea of a time limit but at times the game seems to randomly choose the time limit for a puzzle. While some questions have the exact right amount of time, most do not. A lot of these questions don’t give you nearly enough time to solve them. Some of these questions barely give you enough time to figure out what you are doing before ending the question. This was probably done to make the puzzles more challenging but I would have preferred more challenging puzzles with a longer time limit. On the other end of the spectrum the easiest questions in the game seem to give you way too much time.
These strange time limits actually end up adding luck into the game. While the questions aren’t designed to rely on luck, with the little amount of time you are given I have a hard time believing that luck doesn’t play a role in getting them right. For some of the questions you don’t even get enough time to look at every part of the puzzle. Therefore you have to be lucky enough to look at the right part of the screen in time or make a good guess to get the questions correct. Being a game that is meant to test your knowledge/problem solving, I think it is a huge issue that luck comes into play.
Another issue I had with the game is with the scoring. While it makes sense for some questions to be worth more than others, the disparity is kind of ridiculous at times. The one question in round three is worth almost as many points as the six questions from rounds one and two. With some rounds being worth considerably more than others, it basically makes some of the rounds worthless while others are crucial to winning the game.
Component wise you basically get what you would expect out of a DVD trivia game. You get the DVD, some answer sheets and the instructions. For space conscious people the outer box is totally pointless since everything you actually use in the game fits inside the DVD case. I will say that the DVD was designed better than I was expecting. Some care was actually put into making the DVD. The problem is that the DVD includes only 21 games so once you have played all 21 games you will have to repeat games if you want to continue playing the game. I would also like to mention that the game does not come with nearly enough game sheets for the game if you plan on playing the game with more than one or two players. You could easily create your own sheets but the game could have just as easily added more sheets to the game.
Should You Buy The Brain Game?
At first I thought The Brain Game was going to be one of those cheaply made DVD games that were made to make a quick buck off the trend of brain training games. While The Brain Game is not a great game, it is better than I was expecting. The puzzles can get a little repetitive but are pretty solid. The time limit on a lot of the questions could have been improved though and there are only 21 games included which means you can play through the whole game pretty quickly.
If you aren’t really looking for a brain training game and/or don’t care for DVD games, The Brain Game is not going to be for you. If you like these type of games though and find The Brain Game for a couple dollars it may be worth picking up.