Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree is a simple collection of brain teasers that are unique enough from other, similar games on the Wii to make it worthwhile.
- Decent number of different games and difficulties to choose from
- clean presentation
- one of the few Wii games to make use of your Miis.
- Most multiplayer modes require passing the controller.
Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree takes the same basic structure as the first Big Brain game, which appeared on the DS just over a year ago. It's essentially a sequel to the original game because it doesn't duplicate the games found on the DS, but instead replaces them with a collection of new brain-teasing minigames. While this brings the number of minigame collections on the Wii to just under 8 billion, Big Brain Academy is different enough from the average WarioWare or Mario Party-style collection to find its own niche on the platform that players of the first game should find enjoyable.
The whole game takes place under the guise of making your brain bigger and heavier, which is, of course, completely ridiculous. Unlike its counterpart, Brain Age, Big Brain makes no wordy claim about actually improving your mind. There's also no sketchy-looking science on the back of the box, attempting to legitimize the whole thing. Big Brain Academy just lets you play minigames in random sequences and gives you a score at the end based on your performance. You can compare these scores with other players locally, and you can also send them over to your online friends so they can compare their scores with your scores.
The different games are broken up into groups named after the sort of brain training they're having you do, such as compute or identify. Each game is very simple to understand, as they intuitively use the pointing and clicking features of the Wii Remote. The Wii speaker is used both for encouragement and, in one neat minigame, as a phone. In that minigame, you must listen to customers ordering food and then duplicate their order on the screen. However, most of the minigames are more basic than that, such as one where a series of number-bearing balloons appear, and you have to pop them in order from lowest to highest. Another shows you four pictures and asks you to choose the pictures that fit different criteria. For example, if the game merely says "wings," you might find yourself clicking on a photo of a duck and an airplane, but not a gorilla or a swimmer. Right off the bat, the practice modes in the game let you go to town on 15 different games, but the other modes mix in games that don't appear in the practice menu, giving you a reason to skip around and try everything out.
The main mode in the game is the test mode, where you play 10 rounds of each category. Your skills translate into an overall score, a letter grade, and a descriptive phrase that is meant to tell you your brain type. These are usually goofy descriptions, such as "improv actor." There's also a group mode that you can actually play alone, but it can include up to eight players in some cases. There's one direct head-to-head mode, where two players race to finish a set of questions first, though the rest involve passing the controller to get more than two players playing, which is kind of lame. A proper four-player simultaneous mode might have been nice, but ultimately, you're best off playing the game alone and then comparing your scores with other players.
Visually, Big Brain Academy has a basic but functional look to it. It's never flashy, but it also has a very clean and direct look, which fits with the school-like tone of the game. The Mii system is integrated into the game, so things like your student record book will have your Mii face on it. The audio is good as well. A fair amount of speech comes out of the Wii speaker, but most of it is just encouragement from a female voice that eggs you on as you play. The music and sound effects are also catchy and pleasant.
While fans of the Wii's other minigame compilations might find Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree a little more stripped down than the rest, the game stands apart by simply offering different types of slightly more thought-intensive minigames. It's not rocket science, but if you're after something slightly headier than the Mario Party-style of waving the Wii Remote around like a lunatic while mashing the A button as hard as you possibly can, you'll probably enjoy your time with Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree.