Mini-game compilations are certainly no stranger to the Wii. There have been dozens of games trying to cash in on the success of titles like Wii Sports, and far too many of them have been full priced. However, thanks to Nintendo's WiiWare service, gamers are getting a chance to scratch that mini-game itch without having to break the bank. Such is the case with The Amazing Brain Train, a collection of 15 brain-teasers developed by Ninja Bee that won't keep your attention for long, but is fun while it lasts.
In The Amazing Brain Train, it's your job to help Professor Fizzwizzle fuel his train with the power of - you guessed it - your brain. The game has three modes for you to play through: quest, test, and practice. In quest mode, you're given map with a large train track, and it's your job to help out animals with various odd jobs and requests. These can range from helping Sandra the Camel get an ice cube from Rocky the Penguin, to getting Trixie the Tortoise's autograph for Henry the Hare.
After getting a quest, you will have to play a mini-game in order to power your train. The better you perform in these mini-games, the further your train will travel, allowing you to complete your errands faster. The concept works in theory - it's nice to have some sort of goal to aim for instead of just playing mini-game after mini-game, like in games such as Brain Age. However, the quest mode seems to be catered to the under 10 crowd, which really sucks the fun out of it for those that are, well, older than 10. With the cutesy animals, the childish requests, and the corny dialogue, the quest mode wears thin pretty quickly, and will make you WANT to just play mini-game after mini-game.
Luckily, the puzzles are where you'll be spending the majority of your time in The Amazing Brain Train, and they are the strongest part of the package. The games are divided into five categories: planning, search, spatial, memory, and numbers. These effectively encompass all of the traditional types of brain puzzles, ranging from filling in missing parts of mathematical equations, to keeping track of how many monkeys are hiding in a bush as they run around. Some of the mini-games need to be unlocked, either by achieving certain scores in other mini-games, or just by playing for a set amount of time. This at least gives some motivation to players who don't plan on spending too much time in quest mode.
The puzzles are easy to get into, but tough to master, as the difficulty ramps up depending on how well you do. For example, in the aforementioned Monkey Mayhem mini-game, if you are able to keep track of how many monkeys are hiding and answer quickly enough, additional bushes will be added to make things even more complex. This is a smart feature, as it allows everyone to enjoy the game - little kids can have fun without being overwhelmed, and adults will still face a challenge when testing their brains.
The other two modes the game offers are test and practice. In test mode, you play five random mini-games, one from each category, and at the end are awarded a grade based on how well you performed. Practice mode just lets you play any mini-game you want, in either timed or untimed variants. Add in the fact that there is no multiplayer support, and it's easy to see why The Amazing Brain Train won't keep you busy for long. It's great to play a handful of mini-games here and there, but it's not a game you'll play for hours on end.
But the good news is that the game only costs 600 Nintendo points - just a dollar more than a NES game. For that price, you can't really go wrong with The Amazing Brain Train. Sure, it'd be nice to have some multiplayer support as well as a more compelling quest mode, but for six bucks, it's hard to complain. With 15 fun, varied puzzles to challenge your mind, The Amazing Brain Train will definitely scratch that mini-game itch whenever it arises.