Hot Brain Review

Hot Brain's minigames are pretty good, but because there aren't very many of them, you might not get a lot of replay value.

Hot Brain is Midway's attempt to bring the minigame-style of brain training that's become somewhat common on the Nintendo DS over to Sony's PSP. The basic premise is identical: You play a limited group of brain-teasing minigames, which will apparently make you sharper and smarter. Hot Brain doesn't have a wide variety of games, and there aren't many different ways to play those games, which makes it a short-lasting experience, but at least the quality of the minigames is generally good.

Having a hot brain actually sounds like it'd be pretty painful.
Having a hot brain actually sounds like it'd be pretty painful.

The games are broken into five different categories that deliver games in different styles. For example, the language section contains a game called Picto-Rhymes that shows you a picture of an object, and you need to select a word that rhymes with that object from a list of four words. Another game shows you math problems that are missing the operator, and you need to select the type of math that is required to make the statement true. Yet another game shows you an incomplete shape, and you need to select from four different pieces that would complete that shape. All of these games are basic and run on a time limit.

Much like other games of this type, there are two single-player modes. The practice mode lets you get into any minigame you want at three difficulty levels. The test mode is meant as a daily exercise that gives you five random games and gives you a score based on your overall performance for the day. That score is a temperature, indicating that, if you do well, you have a "hot brain." There are also two multiplayer modes, one co-operative and one competitive, that you can play with up to four players, provided each player has a copy of the game. These modes don't add too much to the package, and we kept running into connection stability problems in the competitive mode as well.

The game's presentation is somewhat bland during the actual games. Outside of the games, Hot Brain attempts to set its action inside an institute, where you're guided around the menus and load screens by a doctor, who is well-voiced by comedian, Fred Willard. But these prerendered scenes tend to just get in the way because you want to quickly move from game to game, not hear a repetitive one-liner and sit through a load screen; thus, Willard's voice talents end up feeling wasted.

Hot Brain might not be as compelling as some of the brain training games that have already appeared on the Nintendo DS, but over in PSP-land, the genre isn't nearly as crowded. If you like the idea of mastering a handful of thought-provoking minigames and don't have any grand expectations for multiplayer options, Hot Brain isn't a bad choice.

The Good

  • Most of the minigames are good
  • feels fresh and different from other games of this type

The Bad

  • The structure of the game wastes Fred Willard's considerable talents
  • a few of the minigames are clunkers and there just aren't enough of them
  • dull multiplayer modes

About the Author

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.