Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain

Big Brain Academy Brain vs Brain

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Bob Hoose

Game Review

Minigames and brain teasers; some people love ‘em, others not so much. But the new Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain, for the Nintendo Switch, gives its all to win over both crowds.

If you’ve never played one of these games in the past (on the Nintendo DS or Wii), Big Brain Academy is essentially a collection of short games that use mental deduction, logic, memory and math skills to challenge and cheer on players in solo or multiplayer contests. And the fast-paced activities are all designed to be at least a little smile-worthy and fun, and never a “this feels like a test” chore.

Boiled down to their simplest form, the minigames are meant to evaluate how quickly a player can solve a problem and input the correct answer. A game might, for instance, show you a fuzzy or highly magnified image of an object or animal and test how quickly your brain can puzzle out what you’re actually looking at while the image slowly draws into focus. Another might toss a fistful of numbers at you and see how quickly you can tap the correct tally or give you a tally and ask which groups of pictured items add up to that total. Another game will briefly show you images in a pattern and test how many of those you can pick out from memory. And you’ll also find a game featuring a train that needs the right chosen pieces of quickly laid track to draw safely into station.

There are 20 different games in several categories to choose from, and you can spin a wheel to get random challenges. The games are never difficult, but they’re always on a ticking clock—in some cases getting faster and more challenging with each correct answer or slowing down with incorrect choices.

The brain teasers can be played alone or with up to three other players in a head-to-head party-game style (using the Switch touch screen in the case of one or two players, or multiple Switch Joy-Con controllers for more). And gamers can also compete against online players in what’s called a “Ghost Clash” match—which is much like playing against someone else’s recording of their minigame efforts.

With each challenge, gamers also earn scored points and medals (the game sports an online world leaderboard that resets every month) along with in-game credits with which they can purchase clothing and accessories for their avatar.

Positive Content

One of the best aspects of Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is the fact that the game lets each player choose his or her difficulty level during the tasks. That can allow gamers to work their way up to tougher hurdles. More importantly, though, this option helps a great deal when adults are going brain-to-brain against younger players. That difficulty scaling creates a surprisingly satisfying balance that plays into family- and party-game competitions and allows different ages to play together without any disadvantages.

Big Brain Academy promotes friendly competition and the play side of exercising your brain. The fact that the game is all light-hearted fun and played in as many short bite-sized pieces as you desire is another element that parents can appreciate.

Content Concerns

There’s really nothing of note here. Some of the cartoony games can contain a bit of thumping play, such as a Whack-a-Mole reflex competition, but there’s nothing messy in the cute mix.  

Game Summary

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain won’t build you or any family member into a math genius or mental savant, but it’s a fun game that’ll give you a good time, and maybe offer just a bit of cerebral heft.

Bob Hoose

After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.

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