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Review

Mensa Academy Review (3DS)

If you are too hipster for Brain training, some Facebook or iPhone knock off of brain training then maybe you should look to alternatives in the genre. I assume you are a hipster I mean why else would you look to an alternative to an already established genre? For the sake of this article let’s assume you have abandoned your vinyl collection for 8 track, swapped your shoes for a pair of sabots (French wooden shoes for you uneducated sloths)  and have decided that you want an alternative to Dr kazadingdong’s Brain training. Now you can enter Mensa Academy via SquareEnix in this retail release so you can join their exclusive club and shun the simple and the ignorant.

If you are new to the genre then good for you ignoring one of the biggest fads of the mid 2000’s. Basically you are faced with a series of mental challenges each in a different specified area of expertise. Language, numeracy, logic, visuals and memory are all challenged here (unlike in politics… Ahem) to both help you train the mind while simultaneously achieving that self realisation of your brain turning to goo from fatigue thanks to the years of neglect you have put it through after you finished school, don’t let American idols bright colours fool you, this is a brain blender.

Language has you doing tasks that involve words and… Make good… Lots… Words. Such concepts such as sorting words alphabetically, fill in the blanks and so forth which will thrill only the most dull scrabble enthusiast… But hey that could be your thing.

Numeracy which is basically every algebra lesson you had in high school come back to haunt you in some form or another. If you aren’t in high school yet brace your self for the fact that X can equal Y and is in fact a mathematical equation. If you are in high school, don’t worry with this stuff you will never use in real life. If you are out of high school, don’t try algebra again unless you want a stroke – luckily Mensa academy will give you all this and more!

Logic, a series of tests that pushes a problem at you to solve. The fact that you have to learn a new set of logic than what is considered logical is what makes this hard. If blue + green = blue then what did I learn in art class about mixing colours? I think this is that algebra problem again only used in colour.

Visuals which is about remembering what stuff looks like and then figuring out where it was, like a terrible version of Where’s Waldo with questions. Then finally there is Memory, a function of the game that is so important that it will echo across the eons of the universe but slips my mind for the moment.

Yes, with these sections you to can become a brain trainer Mensa guy or gal.

To be fair there is nothing wrong with these areas of the game, the questions are very unique in the execution and to provide you with a real chance to flex your mental jelly. The challenges are varied and different, just when you think have nailed the challenges it with just increase in difficulty again just make you feel like you know nothing allover again. Some people call this fun! You progress through 20 stages of difficulty in each area for a total of 120 challenges each with several question in each, so it’s not light on content.

Once you are confident enough with your newly taught useless in real life skills you can take a test, it’s a 15 minute test based on 20 random questions of which at the end you will be given an IQ score. The questions are at the most difficult here and you have the pressure of the ticking clock fighting you (mentally not like in Street Fighter), it’s stress that’s hard to describe, but I will try.

Imagine you are at school and you when you get to do your end of year exam, you have studied English, history, art and mathematics and then when you sit down you are given a random test on the topic ‘Explain ALL the good points of Sofia Coppolas films in Spanish and you can’t use the letter S and L’ and you have 15 minutes to complete this or you fail. Also the cost of failure is watching all Sofia Coppolas films acted out by her, the end result it not good at all. If there is anyone reading this from the Coppolas fan club, send all your hate mail into a ditch.

It’s an interesting idea that adds an element of urgency to an already difficult situation like a bomb attached to a rubix cube and it is decent replacement for the daily test on Brain training but with a slight twist.

Beyond that there is not much to the gameplay that they can add to the genre, it is very set in its ways and for all that they have on offer it is just another skill testing game. If you like this genre then you won’t be disappointed by the elements on offer, it’s as simple as that.

What you will be disappointed by is the controls. With a game like this is seams obvious how it should be controlled, questions on the top screen and answers on the bottom, that makes sense to everyone but it turns out that the mighty brains trust of Mensa means nothing for usability. Forget logic, they will teach you a new logic that is worse. The questions and answers are on the top screen that you have to navigate to with a curser using the bottom screen like a touch pad on a laptop, one of the slowest most clumsy input systems around especially with a stylus.

Maybe at one point they had a touch screen system that was logical and obvious but I assume it had to be ripped out when the developers where haunted by the disembodied head of Dr Kawashima, that or a haunted toaster. Whatever it was that caused it, the game as a whole loses out because of this over sight.

Visually it’s passable, everything is presented as though it is like a stage for a theatre/play,  it’s acceptable for what’s needed in that it’s more flash than it needs to be but not over bearing. I’m sure the artists could of done much more if they really wanted to but this is not the time or place. To be fair I’m sure the 3D artist on those Chipmunk films could do so much more but it’s not to be, some one has to fuel the alcohol industry with broken dreams of artistry.

Soooooo to summarise, if you you are on the market for another brain training style game then this is a great title to check out. It’s nothing particularly new or astounding innovative but it will scratch your itch for mental punishment and does a fairly decent job of providing a good experience for everyone who tries this.

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About The Author
Michael Verrenkamp
I'm just a humble man from Melbourne that knows a little bit about games and not much else and that's just the way he likes it.

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