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Big Brain Academy on Wii achieve the impossible for Nintendo. In a year that saw the UK government paying students to continue their studies with their Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) scheme, Nintendo have somehow convinced young and old alike to pay for the privilege of going back to school.
Their ingenious combination of daily coaching, taxing puzzles and progression tracking has got literally millions of us scratching our heads once again on those Exam style questions and real world tasks. This is a stark contrast with the UK's EMA approach, which as reported on the Parent Centre website, 'offers weekly payments as an incentive to young people aged 16-19 to encourage participation, retention and achievement in Further Education'.
Big Brain Academy is one of a series of rising stars in Nintendo's edu-game. On both DS and Wii, this game offers a more game based approach to learning that the similar (but slightly grumpier) Brain Training series. It also provides a wider variety of games and challenges to stretch your aging cortex. Because of this (even without the statistics and graphs of Brain Training) it is popular by an impressively wide demographic.
Nintendo have somehow convinced young and old alike to pay for the privilege of going back to school.
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is the first Nintendo edu-game to make the move from the DS to the Wii. The tapping of the DS has been replaces by pointing and gesturing with the Wii-mote. And the whole package given an spring clean with higher resolution visuals.
On the Wii, Big Brain Academy benefits from the extra screen real estate. It is much easier to work out what to do when you are not straining to see the miniature DS screen. A lot of the favorite Big Brain DS activities make a re-appearance, along with the progress tracking spider wed diagram.
One of the more interesting features of the Wii game is the introduction of new modes that enable you to play with other people. Multiplayer mode pits you against someone else in a particular challenge, trying to get 12 points before they do. Co-operative play enables you to work together to solve complex problems. Although these modes edge the title into the party game genre, learning socially has always been more effective so perhaps this is no bad thing.
One feature that should be mandatory on all games of this ilk, is the use of your Mii's. I always look forward to a new rendering of my little on screen buddy. And here they are dusted off and given a shiny new lick of paint.
Overall, Big Brain Academy is a great addition to the Wii line-up, and ideal for those getting ready to go 'Back to school'. This is a game that manages to combine fun and education in a compelling way. Add to this the group play and you have an idea game for family, friends or even aunties with loved ones gearing up for the next academic year.
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