Here's a tester for you: how many brain training games were released in 2006 across all gaming platforms? Know the answer? Well, you're smarter than us then. We stopped counting at the 768th one.
Okay, so that's a slight exaggeration, but 2006 was undeniably the year of the brain trainer. Nintendo started it all on its DS handheld, with Dr Kawashima's Brain Training and later Big Brain Academy. These set the formula: a bunch of mini-games revolving around maths, logic puzzles, and visual tests, along with some form of measurement to tell you how clever you were and, usually, a boffin in charge.
It wasn't long before the games made the leap to mobile. Pick of the bunch so far has been Gameloft's Brain Challenge, although there were a number of so-so games trailing in its wake. Glu Mobile has clearly taken the view that you're better late than never, as long as you're also better, bringing out Brain Genius months after its rivals, but packing some powerful features.
The game takes the form of Dr Lababidi (named after Glu's chief technology officer in Europe, fact fans), getting your brain in shape through a bunch of simple puzzles. The idea is that you play Brain Genius every day for a short amount of time, completing a set of exercises that stretch your brain muscles, while allowing the game to assess your progress.
The exercises are grouped into four areas: Visual, Memory, Calculation, and Logic. And they're certainly varied, from counting the stars in constellations, memorising sequences of shapes, and doing sums, to rearranging picture puzzles.
Ah yes, picture puzzles. This is where one of the coolest features of Brain Genius comes in – the use of your phone's camera. You take a photo, and then it's used as the puzzle. In truth, it's a novelty feature, and only works on certain handsets. But it's the sort of thing you'd show off to your friends, which in the current climate, may well be enough to ensure Glu sells plenty of downloads through word of mouth alone.
You get a score after every exercise, which accumulates to give you your daily rating, which is then tracked on a performance graph. The setup will be familiar to anyone who's played the DS brain trainers, or indeed their mobile imitators. There's even a little calendar to make you feel guilty if you miss a day.
Of course, the more you play, the more exercises you unlock, ensuring you don't get bored. A nice touch is the ability to swizzle round exercises once per day, to avoid the ones you really don't like.
There's also an option to play Single Exercise mode, trying any of the ones you've already unlocked, and winning medals depending on how good you are, as well as opening up new difficulty levels (the game classifies them as Junior, Master and Genius). All this, plus there's bonus games of sudoku and kakuro to play too.
Brain Genius is excellent, in terms of its presentation, its gameplay, and its lasting challenge, particularly as you open up those difficulty levels. Want a brain training game for your phone? Get this.