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Challenge Me: Brain Puzzles DS Review

18/05/2009 Family Eclectic Gamer Review
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Challenge Me: Brain Puzzles DS

Challenge Me: Brain Puzzles



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I received this game in the post one morning and couldn't wait to get the kids off to school and nursery to dive into what looked to be a great logic puzzle game.

I should clarify that brain teasers and logic games are my thing in fact our family DS was bought because I was desperate to try 'More Brain Training' and because I needed to find an alternative to the magnetic Sudoku I played in bed (those little squares just don't like staying on the board). So, it was with great anticipation that I started Brain Puzzles.

The game comprises two different types of logic games - 9x9 Sudoku and a Picture Logic game. When you first start the Menu gives you the option of playing Puzzle or Instant Fun.

Instant Fun is just what is says on the packet. You can either select a one-off game of Sudoku or a Picture Logic game. The games are not saved and although there is a target time in which to try and complete the game, your performance isn't monitored or analysed.

Having made a hot cup of tea, added a few extra cushions on the sofa, I got comfortable and started the game.

Choosing the Puzzle option allows you to create and save a personal profile. Within this profile, game data is analysed and stored and you can chart your progress and improvement as well as compare your own performance against your family.

Having made a hot cup of tea, added a few extra cushions on the sofa, I got comfortable and started the game. Set-up was simple enough and I was getting quite excited about what lay ahead when I entered my new profile. Tapping the Challenge Me! section of Picture Logic I hoped to start my first puzzle and was faced with a 10x10 grid with random numbers down the left hand side of the grid and along the top. There was a little 'Thumbnail drawing' square in the left hand corner and my Challenge Me! Target time of 5 min in another. A red Elapsed time counter started to count up.

Help! What am I supposed to do? Look for the handy help/hints button? There wasn't one. The solution in the instruction booklet was little help: 'This game is a logical numbers game which requires you to match up the numbers along the to of the grid to the numbers down the side of the grid. When all numbers match up correctly in the grid, they make a picture'. So much for the instructions. After finding in game help the only added bit of information I got was 'you must match up the numbers according to their colour and their length. When they match up correctly in the grid they make a picture.'

My tea cold, the cushions now displaced and having ditched the instructions and the DS help I finally pieced together the gist of the game by looking at the cover pictures on the game box and instruction booklet.

Although the picture puzzles are interesting, they do take a lot of effort and time to complete, so not something I would pick-up for a quick game while waiting for the dinner to cook. For that I would choose to do a Sudoku from the same game package.

My 8 year old daughter enjoys Sudokus and has completed many on other DS games, but this game was simply too hard for her.

I love solving Sudoku puzzles and think the 'Challenge Me' version is the best and most playable version of the game I've come across. Layout is simple and clear and inputting numbers is made easy with the number pad rather than having to write in numbers. There are many helpful graphical aids to help visualise puzzle solutions such as highlighting a particular number in all its existing positions on the grid or allowing you to enter up to 4 guesses in one square for a trial and error way of playing.

With both the Sudoku and the Picture Logic puzzles there is a big assumption made that players have prior experience of the games and well developed strategies and techniques to solve them. A big missed opportunity is the lack of clear tutorials and simple explanatory tips and advice.

Personally I quickly lost my 'saved time' and languished in 10th rank for most of my time. In the end I decided to ignore the target time and just did some of the puzzles for their own sake. I don't know whose game play the makers based the target times on, but I feel that especially with the picture puzzles the makers really take no prisoners. My 8 year old daughter enjoys Sudokus and has completed many on other DS games, but this game was simply too hard for her. The game really doesn't cater for the younger player a real shame as the Sudoku particularly is really well produced and very playable.

Written by Clare Sharpe

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Clare Sharpe writes the Eclectic Gamer column.

"I think it's probably true that most of us have grown up with computer games - I have a dark and distant memory of some sort of black box with two controllers that allowed us to play an extremely primitive and pixelated game of tennis."

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