Now that we are rolling out of the festive period, it’s time to get back into the swing of things before we get too far into 2022. If, like me, you’ve found yourself doing a good impersonation of a lumpy spud, in both body and mind, you’ll be happy to know there are a few games for Nintendo Switch that may just provide the motivation you need, such as Ring Fit Adventure to tone up your body, or the most recent entry in the Big Brain Academy series to bulk up your brain.

That’s right, Big Brain Academy is back for a third semester with Brain vs. Brain, but is it enough to stimulate that grey matter? Find out in our review, after the break!

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain
Nintendo Switch

Developed by Nintendo
Published by Nintendo
Released: 3rd December 2021
Digital copy provided by Nintendo UK

Whether you just need a quick tune-up, or an intensive brainy boot camp, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain may have just what you require. Upon launching the title, you are told to create a user profile as you are introduced to Dr. Lobe, the game’s headmaster. Profile details include age, ‘style’ (masculine or feminine), and general occupation; you can also change your character’s appearance and catchphrase.

Once you are all set up, the world’s your oyster… or, at least, the various training exercises available. Big Brain Academy is all about the minigames, each one lasting sixty seconds, and Brain vs. Brain includes twenty of them. The games are split up into five different categories, each one challenging a different part of the brain. The categories are Identify, Memorise, Analyse, Compute, and Visualize.

A lot of minigames from previous entries return, such as Cubegame, where you have to quickly count the cubes, or Train Turn, challenging you to pick the correct pieces of the train track. I would have liked a few new minigames, considering the current RRP of £25 however, I’m really satisfied with the selection of old classics.

While playing any of the twenty brain games, you’ll work your way through six different difficulties, starting from the Sprout Class, potentially concluding with the Super Elite Class. The more correct answers you give, the quicker you’ll progress through the classes. Whenever you answer a question correctly, your Big Brain Brawn score will increase, more so if you answer really quickly. Get a question wrong however, and you’ll receive a penalty with some points taken away, quite a few of them actually. At first, this seems like a harsh deduction, but it works very well to stop players from spam-guessing and hoping for the best.

After your minute is up, you’ll be presented with a summary of your score, along with a gold and star grade, each of the medals come in three star denominations. Collecting enough gold medals allows you to start any game from a higher difficulty, perfect for those who can handle an increased challenge.

Similar to previous games, you’ll have the option of practising any of the twenty brain games in Practice Mode, or play five games at random, one from each training category, to try and improve your Big Brain Brawn score in Test Mode. What’s cool about Test mode is how it categories your score at the end based on each category. I feel the fact that you aren’t really able to check your historic data is annoying. I’m a sucker for a good graph showcasing my progress, and this would be the perfect sort of game for it.

The main purpose of Big Brain Academy Brain vs. Brain is the ability to challenge yourself against other players online through the game’s Ghost Clash mode. Here, you can challenge the ghost data of other players online, including your friends. The ghost data is based on that player’s play history for each minigame.

Each minigame is played as if both players were playing the game in vs. mode, be the quickest to answer and the first to 100 points. Though it is a shame you are unable to play against people online at the same time, playing against ghost data does essentially assure that there will not be any issues regarding input lag, something that would sway the game unfairly.

As Ghost Clash is relatively quick and simple to play through, it can easily become quite addictive as each triumph over another’s ghost data increases your global ranking. It’s also cool you can compare your ratings from Ghost Clash, as well as any other mode, with friends, or even strangers from around the world online. The game also presents an offline versus mode, called Party, allowing up to four players to compete against each other locally. The mode can be fun in a party setting, but do bear in mind you use the exact same games from solo play.

Whenever you complete a minigame or test, you’ll always be rewarded with coins based on how well you performed. Every ten coins you collect nets you a random piece of kit to customise your avatar, such as cat ears or a detective jacket. If you are into customising your avatar, this may be a great way to get in that replay value with more than 300 items to unlock.

One aspect that I feel would have improved the replayability of the game is to allow players to gradually unlock minigames, a la Brain Training. It would be very satisfying to do this instead of having everything available to you, just about, from the moment you ‘enrol’ yourself into the academy.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain couldn’t have come at a better time. With 2022 now in full swing, the game is a great way to restimulate your brain after a time of rest and general vegging out. The title is quick and easy to get into some practice or a test, making it the perfect companion to any downtime you may find yourself having on the go. Ghost Clash also offers a nice opportunity to compete against people beyond your own home, and works extremely well-mitigating lag by using ghost data instead of live data.

Ultimately, the main caveat is how, other than online versus, the franchise isn’t really given any new direction with new games or features; it just kinda feels a little stale, even after fifteen years since the previous game. As the game’s launch price is fairly cheap in comparison to other games though, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing and does a great job showcasing some of the best of the previous two titles.

Final rating – 3.5 out of 5

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain is out now, exclusively for Nintendo Switch family systems.

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!