Smart As…Review For The PlayStation Vita
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita
Keeping our minds sharp is just as important as keeping our bodies healthy, but what’s a good way to do that? Sure, you could go and buy a Sudoku book and blast through it in a day, but then you’d only be working out a part of your brain – you need all of it in good shape! Thankfully for PlayStation Vita users, there is now a way to stimulate many areas of your brain all at once and it’s called Smart As…, a collection of intelligence testing mini-games with a hint of social networking, brought to us by XDev Studios Europe. Does this title prove to be a wise and caring mentor, or is it just some jerk of a game who thinks it knows everything (we all have a friend like that, am I right)?
How Smart As…’s core gameplay works is quite simple: every day you take part in a mind test, which is about 10 minutes long and consists of four different mini games – one for each brain lobe the title wants you to exercise (arithmetic, observation, language, and logic). After running through each test, Smart As… will rate your performance out of three stars based on how long it look you to finish, and will tally up your brain power for each of the four lobes – giving an overall percentage for your total mind power. The faster you answer questions correctly and solve puzzles across each lobe, the more you’re using that chunk of your brain, and the more your overall score will reflect that.
As for the actual mini-games themselves, they are quite fun and can be played individually at any time (as long as you’ve unlocked them through daily play); I’ll detail a few of them here to give you an idea what they’re like. My personal favourite is an observation game that involves touching either the front screen or rear pad as displayed by panels that pop up around the top, bottom, left, and right of the screen. These panels will say either “front” or “rear”, and can appear in various colours, either close to or far from the screen. These colours and locations are meant only to fool you, as only the word itself determines which input to use. Players need to focus only on the words, as every wrong press adds five seconds to your total time – making it a great observational workout.
Two other common mini-games called “Lost Letter” and “Calculations Plus” involve either filling in a missing letter or number from a word or an equation, using the front touch screen to physically draw the answer. There is no penalty for getting it wrong; simply try again until it’s right or your time on that question runs out. Players need to either dive into their mental dictionaries and calculators in order to get this done quickly, but even the smartest may have a bit of an issue getting through it at times – and it has little to do with the challenge itself. I mentioned both of these games together because they both use the writing mechanic, which is where the issue actually is. It seems like every other day the input method simply doesn’t pick up on what you’re writing, turning things like O’s into S’s and the like, which is greatly frustrating as it increases your total time – at no fault to you. I even had one instance where I answered a math problem incorrectly, but the game thought I had actually written a different number that happened to be the correct one. When this issue occurs, it greatly reduces the accuracy of your brain power, giving the player either a worse or better score than he/she deserves. This is a massive downfall to an otherwise brilliant mental exercise title.
One redeeming quality for Smart As… is its social networking aspect. Players are able to pull up their own daily score graphs and compare them side-by-side to that of a friend’s, to see how they stack up against each other. Not only that, but gamers can compare their current percentages to gamers anywhere in the world, down to players nearby using the Near app included in the game. Speaking of which, you are also able to leave challenges via Near so that any passerby can attempt to beat your score in a mini-game. Add in the fact that you can post your daily scores to both Facebook and Twitter, and you have an addictively social experience that gives you some extra reasons to keep your mind sharp (you don’t want your neighbor to showboat his mental prowess over you, do you?).
One last section of Smart As… worth noting is the narrator, who provides several witty and comical lines of dialogue as you play. Thankfully, he’s one of those kind disembodied voices, and while he might not always feel bad for you he won’t outright insult you either – like others in the genre have an annoying tendency to do. What really makes him shine, though, is the fact that he’s played by John Cleese of Monty Python, which will make several gamers instantly connect with him and smile. After all, it’s pretty awesome to have John Cleese as your own mental coach!
To answer the initial question, Smart As… is a simple, fun way to give your brain a workout, with noticeable results after just a short period of time. With so many good qualities like its entertaining play, various social networking capabilities, and comical narrator, it’s too bad to see the game being held back by a buggy writing mechanic that can skew your daily results. Once you look past that fact, however, you’ll see one of the best mind-sculpting games the gaming industry has to offer. So what are you waiting for? Pick it up and start working those head muscles of yours so you can start showing your smarts off to the world!
Final Score: 4.5 / 5.0 and a healthier mental lifestyle.
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