The long-running Big Brain Academy series has returned to put your grey matter to the test once again with a series of party-ready minigames that provide a genuine challenge but are lacking in replay value.
If you’ve exhausted Mario Kart and played WarioWare to death, it might be time to pick up a new party game for your Nintendo Switch, and we’d quite happily recommend Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain as a fun alternative to pass some time with family and friends.
There’s no real learning curve, and the ability to change the difficulty level for each player means any age group can join in – just don’t expect it to hold everyone’s attention for more than an hour or two, as the offerings are fairly slim.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain – Key Details
- Price: $29.99 | £24.99
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: December 3, 2021
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain trailer
Flexing your brain is the name of the game
You’ll start your Big Brain Academy journey by enrolling with Dr. Lobe, the ever-enthusiastic academic who promises to “stretch and flex” your brain. Provide your age, occupation (sadly, there’s no option for video game journalists), and briefly customize your character before jumping straight into the minigames.
There are five self-explanatory categories to choose from – Identify, Memorize, Analyze, Compute, and Visualize – all designed to test different parts of your brain, with four minigames under each theme. You’ll do everything from memorizing picture cards to counting cubes and sorting animals into categories.
Beyond this initial setup period, there’s no real reason to play solo in Brain vs Brain. There’s no daily check-in incentive to better your brain age, no significant rewards beyond earning accessories like a tiara or cat ears for your character, and the prospect of beating your own high score just isn’t that exciting.
Fortunately, couch multiplayer is where this game really shines, with up to four players going head-to-head in fast-paced brain battles that can really bring out your competitive side. It’s easy to set up, there are no complicated rules, and each round lasts a couple of minutes, so it’s perfect for quick bursts of fun.
Even better, the playing field will always be level as each player can choose an individual difficulty setting, so kids will stand a chance against their parents. On easy mode, for example, number sequences that need to be memorized will be shorter, and math problems will be a little easier to solve.
As for the game’s online features, you can’t directly battle against another player, but you can compete against a replay in Ghost Clash mode. These ‘ghosts’ are created when another player takes part in an activity, giving the illusion that you’re competing against someone without any tedious wait times.
Big on fun, small on variety
The main complaint I’d level at Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain is that it’s a little too light on content. I managed to get through every minigame in just a few sittings, and I didn’t find myself itching to revisit many of them, which is a quality that the best party games usually have.
It also doesn’t help that the majority of minigames are reused from previous Big Brain Academy games, and many feel very similar to one another. For example, Flash Memory asks you to memorize a sequence of numbers, while Reverse Retention requires you to do the same but enter them backward.
Dr. Lobe would probably argue that these two games flex different parts of the brain – or something along those lines – but in reality, it just feels like the same minigame played in reverse. With only 20 minigames in total, it limits the variety of the already-slim pickings on offer.
Still, for such a budget price tag, you can’t expect too much, and Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain ultimately serves its purpose well as a game that any age or skill level can get involved in, making it a great choice for a family get-together at Christmas or game night with friends.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain is one of the most accessible party games available on Nintendo Switch right now. It might not have much longevity, but it’s affordable, easy to pick up and play, and has the potential for some real competitive party play with the right people.
Reviewed on Nintendo Switch