Big Brain Academy

Brain training for those having nightmares about Dr Kawashima

Until now, there have only been two ways to weigh your own brain. You can sever the head at the base of the skull, plunge it into a bucket of water, and use the displaced water to extrapolate brain weight. The other involves a spoon and is far too... lengthy a process to explain here. Thank heavens for Big Brain Academy, then, which, through the more 'scientifi c' method of conducting simple tests, sets out to quantify your brain-power in grams.

In order to do so, it tests you in five areas - Think, Memorise, Compute, Analyse and Identify. Memorise, for example, is pretty much what you'd expect - having to remember sequences of pictures and sounds of increasing length. Analyse requires you to look at pictures and finish them off, count blocks or match sequences, while Compute is a more mathematical discipline, asking you to add, subtract, multiply and divide in various ways. Chances are you've done very similar tasks in the past - a bit like the IQ tests you get on the internet or those Careers Advice tests in school that politely inform you you're doomed to a life of wig making or repairing sewing machines.


Presented by Dr Lube, sorry, Lobe (who looks like he was stolen from a 1970s cartoon about contraception), Big Brain Academy feels much more lighthearted than Brain Training. Rather than stark and formal black-and-white arithmetic tests,
Academy is more pictorial: counting little penguins and trains, manoeuvring a dog around a box and joining dots all make it feel far more friendly and game-like.

It mightn't chart your brain age like Brain Training does (it just records the highest brain weight as if it were a high score) and it never feels quite as serious, but it's no less difficult, and no less worthwhile as a form of brain exercise.

The verdict

A great, less-serious complement to Brain Training, far and away the more accessible of the two and less prone to human error and recognition niggles.

Nintendo DS