Few games pique my interest on mobile devices. Call me old school but if I’m going to game, I need a dedicated system designed for gaming such as the Sony PSP. Part of that has to do with the awkward controls in action games, the tiny screen, poor resolution and that odd side effect of absolutely killing the battery of what should be an important tool!
Everyone once in awhile though a game will come around that makes my day. In this case, SPB Brain Evolution is that game. It probably harkens back to my role in life as a geek, but Brain Evolution just isn’t a game but exercise for yer brain, that aging gooey mush behind your eyes. In fact, there is no shortage of articles about all these new brain games and how modern research has shown that their regular use can help improve memory, possibly even detering the onset of dementia. Sa-weet!
SPB Brain Evolution is available for the Smartphone or PocketPC version (including square screens) of Windows Mobile and having used both, I consider them quite equal in functionality. Both are $19.95.
Read on for the Full Review!
It’s a simple installation, taking up about 2.0mb on the device (Storage Card installation is just fine if you’re into saving space). When you first launch the game, it has to evaluate your current abilities in a process called “Brain Marking”. This process basically runs through a bunch of tests, such as Arithmetics, remembering shapes/orientation/color on a grid (“Memorics”) and my favorites “Quadronica” and “Numbers”. All of this create under a user profile, which helps personalize the whole affair.
Once the game grades you (a humiliating process) you are allowed to play the aforementioned games endlessly in an attempt to reach certain score levels. The grading system assigns you a descriptive in addition to a percentage, these are: Child, Schoolboy, Student, Intern, PhD, Professor, and Nobel Prize Winner. Don’t be surprised if you’re first “Brain Marking” reduces you to a Child or Schoolboy. Reaching those higher levels allows you to activate newer games.
What makes the game such a fun experience, one in which you feel like you are actually accomplishing something, is the way it records your progress. Basically you are encouraged to play a round of “Brain Marking” once a day which is then recorded on a mini-calendar with your progress graphed out in front of you. It’s almost like a work out program and really helps keep you interested. And you can’t cheat either! You can do as many “Brain Markings” as you want per day but only the first gets recorded. Busted! Moreover, let it not be under-stated, these games can be hard and frustrating! Sure, you may prance around your office known for your tech-geekiness and obscure knowledge, but listen my friend, play Brain Evolution for a couple of days and realize how un-smart you really are... errr... unintelligent, that’s what I meant. Lets just say I haven’t exactly unlocked many games, ahem.
For technical aspects, the game also succeeds. You can pause your games, keep the backlight on, adjust brightness and volume within the game itself and intuitively jump around the game with no issues. You can use the d-pad on some games or the keyboard, but often enough I felt it was easier to bust out the stylus for the PPC version and just use that. There is also no shortage of games to play and they vary from memorizing, problem solving, visual skills, math and verbal training, essentially covering all the major cognitive processes. Besides the first couple, which are unlocked, you can work to unlock Suduko, Balltracker, Minesweeper, Guess Who, Encyclopedia, Matches and Interesting Facts.
Due to my non-genius abilities, I have to dream of those higher levels or stare at SPB’s screenshots of what awaits :-(
Any negatives? Just a couple. For one I found the gaming incredibly addictive, especially if you find one of the sub-games enthralling (hello “Quadronica”!). Then again, it can be just as annoying if you don’t like a certain game—I’m looking at you Arithmetics. But the reason you find something annoying, especially in my case, has nothing to do with the game play but rather finding out your own inadequacies. And that’s just it, the game is really good and incredibly challenging which for many is enough to keep you practicing and also get you annoyed.
So final thoughts: SPB House has been consistently churning out great software in 2007 and Brain Evolution is a great example of this innovation. The game is extremely challenging, holds your interest and is something you can keep on playing endlessly, since there is no real way to beat the game (and if you do, I hate you). Probably one of the best features of this game is brevity—you can whip through a “Brain Marking” in 5 minutes and most full practice games take 5 minutes or less, making it the perfect game if you need to kill some time at the bank.
The game goes for $19.95 (Windows Mobile PocketPC/Pro here and Smartphone Edition/Standard Hhre), which considering you are helping your improve your brain and the game has endless replay value is quite fair. There is also a 15-day trial to give it a spin but I bet you’ll be sold within a couple of minutes—so give it a download.