|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 11, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Matthew Walker
June 26, 2007 - There is a lot to say about video games and the educational systems of the world. Some believe that video games are detrimental to the learning process of the world's youth. I, for one, have always been of the frame of mind that video games instill a part of hand eye coordination that is unobtainable in nearly any other form of activity. In recent years, Nintendo has been blending the lines between video games and education with their Brain games for the Nintendo DS. The world over has been consumed with the desire to not only increase their brain size, but to compete with those they know to prove who has the biggest brain.
With the growing success of games improving our knowledge and the growing success of Nintendo Wii's motion sensing capabilities, it seemed like only a matter of time before we would see a title on the family system that would spark academic debates that rivaled some college academic square offs. Okay, so maybe not that strenuous, but you get the idea. It makes perfect sense considering the point and click technology of the Wii-mote. Before I go further into the wonderfulness of the game, I have to commend Nintendo for bringing Big Brain Academy to the Wii, if for no other reason than to increase the importance of console gaming as a possible educational tool. Why do I say this? Because for years, many forms of handheld gaming has been glorified as ways to increase one's brain compacity, even as far back as the days of Simon.
Now that I have stressed the joys that I feel for gaming teaching us more than how to aimlessly gun down zombies, travel through magical pipes while eating mushrooms, and sneak around corners to reach the final confrontation of a 20 hour game, I can tell you that even if you hate learning, you will love this game. Not in the sense that it will be all that you play, but you will always want to display how smart you are as opposed to your friends. Even when you are not playing against your friends and family, you will find yourself challenging the game all alone.
At the start of the game, you must first enroll into the program. If you have been spending those long days creating your Miis to look just the way you have always wanted them to, Nintendo provides yet another reason to create those mindless little drones that wander aimlessly in you Mii channel. From here, you will take your first test. The tests are broken down into Visualizing, Memory, and Analyze, to name a few. Each one is specific to expanding areas of the brain. For the math lovers in all of us, there is even a Compute part of the test. For those of us that don't exactly get into the math area of the brain that much, unfortunately there will no skipping out on testing to play some basketball in the gym. Each area is scored according to how many answers you got right and how fast you were at answering them. For the scoring, you are told what area you excelled at and which area you "need more practice." At the grading of your first test, you are give what range of you should fall into. Average is about around 1400, but I must reveal my own score of 1095. The reason for this is to convey that never in the game will you feel the bludgeoning disrespectful glares of peers prepared to mock you. No, instead, you will always be informed of where to improve bit in a way that you will never feel bad for scoring low.
For challenging your friends, you will have up to three different ways to compete and annihilate your competition. By far, in my opinion, the best mode is Mind Sprint. In this mode, you will race against a friend in a varied amount of questions determined by you. Of course, as you may be able to determine, the faster you are at answering the better off your chances are at winning. However, you can't just randomly fly through the questions getting wrong answers and expect to win. In fact, if you miss a question you will have to wait a few seconds before you can reattempt the question. So, come prepared before you challenge your friends, otherwise you may experience the ridicule and laughter of an entire living room before you know it.
The graphics are nothing challenging to the system, but they offer the same simplistic approach as the DS. This is actually a gracious thing instead of a harmful venture on Nintendo's part. Therefore, as long as you are not expecting the next great CGI filled video game, you will be fine. The sounds are a bit hokey, but this is also part of the charm of the game. The Wii-mote speaker provides a new feature to the game in the form of a coach. The coach acts as your support during the rapid question answering as it feeds you lines of encouragement that may sound a bit wooden at times, but is a welcome addition for those of us that need that friendly push to keep on trudging through.
While Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree may not be anything revolutionary considering the games on the DS, it does provide an entertaining experience while helping you learn. It is great to see games with a specific goal in mind succeed, and the funny thing is that Big Brain delivers in a pair, providing a learning experience and a degree in fun. I for one could not be happier. Now excuse me while I go weigh my brain.
CCC Project Coordinator