Review: Smart As…
You may be familiar with the Brain Training style of games, a bunch of mini-games that are said to get the wheels cranking in your brain. Most of the time it is just a single player experience that feels more like a chore than it does a game. Smart As… tries to change things up a bit with the addition of social aspects. And I for one found these changes refreshing.
Before you have a chance to see all of the social hooks the game starts off like you might expect, a daily challenge. The disembodied voice of John Cleese of Monty Python fame welcomes you to the world of Smart As with some witty narration. He will both sing your praises when you do well or shout some snark when you goof up. While you don’t really notice him after while, it is a nice touch that shows the game’s polish.
There are four different types of skills that you will work on while playing the game’s numerous puzzles and challenges, all having to do with a different part of the brain. Logic works your problem solving skills, Arithmetic is all about math, Language will have you spelling and finding word relations, and Observation tests your memory. The daily challenge will grab a puzzle from each of these areas and grade you on speed and accuracy. From there you can tweet or even upload the score to Facebook, but that is really just the start of the social integration.
The big step up from other games is that you can now compare your results to friends and anyone that has the game. Simply log in to “Smart As World” and it will sync all of your scores. The game has leaderboards that remind me a lot of Dead Nation, except they go even deeper. Instead of just country versus country, you can dial the leaderboards down to your neighborhood thanks to near. The game also asks different questions before each daily challenge, so you can see if you are “smarter than the average person who uses chopsticks to eat noodles.” I really enjoy diving into these leaderboards and there are a lot of them. Every single one of the puzzles has a leaderboard for each of its 4 difficulty levels. The game will even pull this data while on the loading screens with messages saying “You are now smarter than this friend” or “You are the smartest in the world at Chain Reaction (Genius)”.
Each of the 20 different games use different features of the Vita. While most just use the touch screen, there is everything from gyroscope use in Roller Blocks to the Augmented Reality puzzles of Live Jigsaw. While most of these games are fine I did have a few issues with some of the Language games. If you are citizen of the United States or even Canada you might have some trouble like I did with “Spell It”. This puzzle features a British woman saying words for you to spell, the big problem here is her very thick accent. There were numerous times where I could barely understand the word she was saying. There were also some rather interesting spellings of words, “liquefy” being really foreign to myself. Other than some usual jank in gesture recognition of similar shaped letters, there isn’t really much else to complain about. That is besides the fact that you have to unlock new puzzles by playing the daily challenges. So if you don’t cheat and change your Vita system clock a bunch, it will take you about a good two weeks to fully unlock the game in Free Play mode.
There is a lot of content in the puzzles though. By getting 3 stars on a difficulty it unlocks the next level of the puzzle. Not only are they getting harder, they are also layering on more and more to do. For example one of the Observation puzzles is “Turbo Tap”. It starts off rather simply with just touching either the front or rear touch screen based on an on screen prompt. Then the next level will add touching either the left or right side of the screen. On Hard the prompts are very specific in locations they want, Front Left for example. When finally trying this on “Genius” you will have to do two prompts at once, so Front Left and Rear Right. Your mind will be in knots as you are trying to do this a quickly as possible. A wrong input is heartbreaking when you see it adding +5sec to your overall time. But when you do score that killer time, you can upload it to near for others to try to beat. It is really addicting.
One way to get access to these games earlier is by doing Street Smart challenges. By bringing your Vita to different locations you can download challenges that last for a set amount of time. Unlike the daily challenge which mostly grabs puzzles from the easy difficulty, Street Smart offers 3 puzzles each at a higher difficulty than the last. By completing these challenges you can earn stars which are shown on a separate leaderboard. The best thing about Street Smart is that after you grab the location data initially you don’t have to be there to update your score. So I have been going around to a lot of places and grabbing challenges, marking the world around me with my Smart As… scores.
Smart As… isn’t a game which you are going to play for hours at a time. It is best played in quick bursts. I find myself doing it before I go to bed each night. The great thing about Smart As… isn’t that it tracks my progress, it’s that it shows my friends how much more smarter I am than them. Earning trophies along the way doesn’t hurt either.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- Comparing my stats against friends
- The variety of different challenges
- Great use of near and Vita features
- Easy to pick-up and play
What I Dislike:
- Some of my gestures where interpreted wrong.
- Some of the games aren't localized for a US audience
- Most of the content that is locked away at the start