I’ll admit, I didn’t expect to enjoy Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain quite as much as I have been. I’ve never been into the ‘brain training’ genre, so the idea of playing an assortment of mini-games to put my brain to the test wasn’t something I was too excited for, yet here I am, completely addicted to the game. It helps that that the mini-games themselves are a heck of a lot of fun to play though, whilst the competitive elements of Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain feel equally rewarding as you compete with family and friends.

Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:

For those who don’t know what Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain is, it’s essentially an assortment of twenty different mini-games that test your brain across five different categories: identify, memorize, analyze, compute, and visualize. Players are given sixty seconds to answer questions that get more and more difficult based upon how many right answers they get, with a score given at the end based upon their performance. The higher the score, the better the reward, with medals of varying prestige offered. Be warned though: you lose points if you get a question wrong, meaning you can’t wing it and guess your way to glory.

Whilst players can spend time in the Practice mode to keep getting better at each mini-game and improve their scores, it’s in the Test mode that they will really see how good they are. Here, players take on one randomly assigned mini-game from each category, with the collective score at the end grading the player’s brain. It also shows a graph to give the player an idea of what category they perform best in, allowing them to work to improve their skillset in order to increase their brain grade. The in-game teacher (who sounds like an Animal Crossing character which is always a plus) lets you know early on that their score is 3300, so it gives you something to work towards.

Personally? I’m at 3356 now, which was satisfyingly acknowledged in-game and gave me an ‘S’ rank brain. I know I can do better and continually find myself working at it though, which is all part of the appeal of Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain.

It’s a formula that makes for a really fun time, whilst the fact that the mini-games are well designed and bring plenty of variety helps too. Some personal favourites included ‘Fast Focus’ that challenges the player to identify the picture of an animal quickly as it comes into focus, ‘Flash Memory’ that challenges the player to remember and repeat a multi-digit number as quickly as possible, ‘Covered Cages’ that shows the player an assortment of moving cages and challenges them to remember which ones had birds in, ‘Speed Sorting’ which challenges players to quickly sort different images into categories, and ‘Train Turn’ which challenges players to complete a train track using different tiles, just to name a few. There isn’t a single dud mini-game amongst the bunch, and whilst I did find myself doing better at some over others, they each challenged my brain skills in a satisfyingly addictive manner.

“I never thought that Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain would become the next multiplayer hit for my family and I, but we keep coming back for more.”

Whilst it’s enjoyable to play solo though, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain is at its best in multiplayer. Multiplayer comes in two forms: local multiplayer for up to four players and Ghost Clash.

I feel I should focus on Ghost Clash first, because it’s the more unconventional of the two. Now it’s worth stating from the get-go that Ghost Clash isn’t a multiplayer showdown on a technical basis – you’re not directly competing with someone in a live showdown. Instead, you’ll face off against their ‘best performance’; you know, kind of like the ghosts you can compete against in a racing game. This can be done against players from around the world, your friend list, or just those who played locally on your Nintendo Switch, so there are plenty of options in place to face off against. It’s a cool idea and I love the fact that someone out there has probably lost to my ghost – sure, it would have been nice to have some online form of direct multiplayer too, but Ghost Clash is still really neat.

Local multiplayer allows either two players to compete using touch screen controls on the Switch or up to four players with Joy Cons, with each showdown essentially acting as a race to see who can answer their question the quickest. It’s high-pressure stuff, with the player not only having to be correct but also faster than their rivals. Best of all, whilst you can pick the mini-game you compete in if you want, there’s also a wheel you can spin that makes it a bit more unpredictable. It certainly adds a spanner in the works for players who have their own specialities.

Again, it’s a super fun way to experience the gameplay of Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain, with the core gameplay loop lending itself well to competitive action. Different difficulty levels can be applied on an individual basis too, ensuring that it remains competitive whether you’re competing against an eight-year-old or an eighty-year-old, whilst the variety of mini-games on offer mean you never quite know if the action will suit your strengths. I never thought that Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain would become the next multiplayer hit for my family and I, but we keep coming back for more. It’s deceptively intense, because come on… EVERYONE likes to think they’re the smartest member of their group, right?

“There isn’t a single dud mini-game amongst the bunch, and whilst I did find myself doing better at some over others, they each challenged my brain skills in a satisfyingly addictive manner.”

There’s plenty to keep players ticking away in Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain thanks to the score chasing and desire for improvement, though the unlockable costume parts act as a neat incentive too. You earn coins with your successes in the game, with ten coins giving players a random cosmetic item – I’m currently dressed up as a king, for example, crown and all. It’s fitting since, you know, I do have the highest brain grade in my household…

I found it neat that you could really fine-tune your avatar too, with the player able to choose their age, occupation, personal motto, as well as appearance. It was especially clever to see this when competing in Ghost Clash, where you could learn more about the person you’re competing against and see how you shape up. It’s a small social detail, but one that goes a long way in adding a real personal touch to the overall experience, especially when competing with players around the same age as you.

It’s clear then that I had a lot of fun with Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain, though I did have one issue: there’s no way to pause the game. There were a few occasions where I needed to quickly stop a Test or mini-game for whatever reason, but found it quitting out as soon as I hit the start button. Whilst I can see why the developer did this to prevent cheating or players trying to work things out on the sly, there’ve been enough occasions where I genuinely needed to pause the action for it to feel frustrating for me.

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain Review

Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain is an enjoyable brain-busting experience that’s fun solo, but even better when played with friends and family. I’ve had a really good time playing through the varied and creative mini-games with my loved ones, with the multiplayer showdowns proving to be pretty intense throughout. It’s just really addictive, but also satisfying to see yourself slowly improve at tasks which seemed tough the first time around.

Whether you’re looking for a bit of a workout for your brain, a competitive multiplayer experience, or just a fun selection of mini-games that will keep you on your toes, you won’t go wrong with Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain.

Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed)
Website: https://bigbrainacademy.nintendo.com/