Ever since Dr Kawashima unleashed his brain training onto the DS, there’s been an unstoppable slew of copycat games. The phenomenal success of a game telling you that you’re a bloody genius because you know your seven times table hooked a planet of easily complimented gamers. It’s not a difficult formula to copy – you have a few memory games, some maths ones, a couple of anagrams, and maybe an inventive idea or two. The one thing they all seem to absolutely exclude is any notion of being difficult in any way. Tricky, occasionally. But not difficult. Another very unsubtle interpretation of the genre is the work of an Australian indie team, 3 Blokes Studio, called Brainiversity 2. Which has a half hour demo out now.
At first glance I rolled my eyes at the and-me-ness of yet another brain trainer, and continued to do so after I completed the initial test and came out as Earth’s Smartest Man. However, the ocular somersaulting came to an end when I realised I couldn’t flipping well score the 80 or above required for celebration (a crowd of children cheering, unsettlingly) for an anagram game in the Words section. I’m great at anagrams! If I could only be bothered to apply I’d win a Countdown teapot easily! But damn it those rotating circles of words kept evading me. Plus the maths games, while starting off extremely simple, will throw out questions requiring your fourteen times table, or surprise you with a negative answer.
There’s also memory questions, which appeal to me none at all. However, the unlocked game at the start – a typical Simon Says-style pattern memory game – becomes massively hard incredibly quickly. It seems, quite by surprise, that this might be the difficult brain training game I wanted. I should stress here, of course, we’re talking in very relative terms of “difficult”. I mean, “Not something you can do in your sleep”, rather than requiring advanced calculus or any actual knowledge.
There’s all the same ridiculous restrictions applied to this game as appear in all these trainers. You can only take one ‘official’ stab at improving a score in a day – practise attempts let you keep playing, but it won’t record your performance. This is as pointless here as it is in every other version – a model that would only make sense if you were paying a daily subscription to the game you bought, which you aren’t, which now won’t sodding well let you play it properly. There are also a few concerns that during the fifteen minutes I spent trying to beat the anagrams game, the word “LANKY” came up three times. And “CELLO” twice.
Anyhoo, it’s clearly cheap and cheerful, but it’s surprisingly decent. Half an hour is about as stingy a demo as you could imagine, the meanies. It’s $20 for the full version.