The Big Brain Academy series is back on the Nintendo Switch with a colourful and interactive take on the classic game series that originally came out on the Nintendo DS. 2021 has been a big year for party games on the Switch and it looks like we are closing out the year with another strong title in Big Brain Academy: Brain Vs. Brain. There is plenty to do in the lengthy single-player campaign, but things ramp up when more players join in, and this is where I had the most fun with this game.
Play It Your Way
The game is divided into mini-games with five distinct sections aimed to use different brain parts. Memorise, analyse, identify, compute and visualise. The game’s single-player component allows you to take each of these for practice and follow it up with a test. Completing the rounds and earning points will enable you to progress in the various leagues that start you as Sprout up to the Super Elite league. You can also compete against ghosts of online players and ghosts from your friend list. Unfortunately, due to the linear nature of the single-player experience, there aren’t many hours to unpack here.
If you grab a friend for multiplayer battles, things get fun real fast. You can use the joy-cons to play or flip the Switch and use the touch screen. Each player chooses their level of difficulty before the match starts, which keeps the playing field even and all age groups in contention at any given time. While I had spent hours playing in single-player tests, my partner was brand new to the game and started on a lower level. This allowed us to continually play together while he got his levels up and could adjust accordingly while maintaining the spirit of friendly competition. The difficulty however, does increase to a surprising level that is sure to leave adults like myself scratching their heads.
This marks one of the first occasions that has prompted me to utilise the Switch in table top mode. Thankfully, moving the cursor to answer your question is much easier when using the touchscreen. The response time is lightning fast, and it feels like more of an experience being able to use the physical Switch screen to interact. It works well in single and two players; if you have more players than this, the touchscreen is not an option.
The more you play, the more items you unlock, which allow you to purchase different costume pieces. You can then customise your character, which is displayed (along with your age!) while you play. The visuals are beautiful, with a great art style that fits the light-hearted tone of the experience perfectly. The colours are bright and vibrant, and the game chooses a white and colourful aesthetic.
Big Brain Academy: Brain Vs. Brain is best played in short bursts with as many friends as you can rally. For me, this will now form part of my game night collection when friends come over. It’s a great game that combines the best of the classic Brain Training titles from the DS and uses the most of the Switch’s touchscreen and joy-con controllers. The blend of brain-stretching and fun is well balanced in this game and has enough variety to keep everyone entertained.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Vibrant visuals; Fun with friends; Variety of difficulty levels
Lowlights: Linear single-player offering
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Review conducted on Nintendo Switch with a pre-release retail code provided by the publisher.