From personality quizzes to mental aptitude tests, there's a growing love for assessments. School exams are still grossly out of style with the kids, but testing your mental capacity with a few brain games is completely cool these days.
Too cool for school, PQ2: Practical Intelligence Quotient 2 puts down the pen and paper for a new breed of brain training. And while its difficulty can be a source of frustration, this intriguing puzzler is more than passable.
PQ2, like its predecessor, is all about measuring your practical intelligence, or PQ for short. Differing from your intelligence quotient (IQ) which gauges mathematic aptitude and breadth of vocabulary, PQ signifies your ability to deal with real-world problems. In short, PQ breaks from the academic pen-and-paper assessment of IQ in favor of an applied measure of logic and reasoning.
Using a system crafted by Kyoto University Professor Masuo Koyasu, the game derives your PQ via spatial puzzles requiring movement and the manipulation of objects. Your objective in each puzzle is to reach a goal beacon while contending with a variety of obstacles along the way. Time is of the essence since your PQ is determined by the amount of seconds taken to complete each puzzle, as well as the number of moves.
The D-pad moves your avatar, while pressing X enables you to pick up small objects or push/pull large ones. Puzzles are completely three-dimensional, which requires a bit of camera work with either the analog stick for free movement or the L and R movement for angled shifts.
Since your avatar can only climb up or down one level at a time, you'll frequently need to position boxes in order to reach the goal beacon. It's common to come across puzzles that start you on one end of the screen, the goal beacon on the opposite end, and a massive gap in between. Most puzzles can't be solved by just stacking boxes; rather, you'll have to deal with breakable glass boxes, unusual topography, and large boxes than can only be dragged about.
This in and of itself would make for a challenging game; however, PQ2 packs in several other types of obstacles that increase the difficulty considerably. Colored switches trigger moving pillars of the same color, game-ending lasers prevent access to critical areas, and police boxes house officers that can track your avatar down and end the round. Easily the most difficult and annoying obstacle is the detective, a snoopy fellow that tracks your avatar's footprints. If he catches you, you're forced to restart the puzzle.
The sheer variety of obstacles and how they are utilized in each puzzle makes PQ2 a diverse, challenging experience. The game's difficulty level would ideally be roundly applauded, too, but often you'll be jeering. Some puzzles are overly difficult, others flat out frustrating, and a few will compel you to smash your PSP against the nearest wall. PQ2 is meant to be a challenging test of your practical intelligence, but the game misses the mark with puzzles so hard that you're not likely to even finish the core one.
Several modes are available, yet only finishing a 100-puzzle test will provide you with a PQ score. The test serves as the keystone in PQ2, functioning both as the game's main mode and PQ measurement. You're given 300 minutes to complete the series of puzzles, which cumulatively counts down whenever you attempt a puzzle.
Finishing the test is awfully hard because of its length and the ever-increasing difficulty of the puzzles. The opening puzzles are easy enough, but around halfway through you'll notice them becoming quite hard. By number 80, they're unbearably difficult. For a game meant to measure your intelligence, it has a way of making you feel like quite the dummy.
Still, you don't have to stick to the 100-puzzle test thanks to other modes, including Quick, Theme, and Weekly tests. Quick tests feature five puzzles for a hasty gauge of your PQ; unlike the 100-puzzle test, this score isn't recorded. Meanwhile, Theme tests are categories of similar puzzles to be completed within a specified time, such as single move, fewest moves, or advanced puzzles. In total, there are over 250 puzzles, or in layman's terms 250 different reasons to pull your hair out.
Once you've completed the 100-puzzle test and exhausted all of the puzzles in theme mode, you can download Weekly tests. A slate of five new puzzles is offered every seven days, with several already available. In addition, you can download user-created puzzles and craft your own in the editor to upload and share with the community. Both are great ways to extend the value of PQ2, especially if you exhaust the puzzles packaged with the game.
A good thing too, because the inclusion of online features puts PQ2 head and shoulders above other brain games, despite its abhorrent difficulty. And, when assessed objectively, even this can be somewhat forgiven when you consider that the game is intended to tax your intelligence. Ultimately, PQ2 succeeds in accomplishing what it sets out to do: offer a mildly interesting, highly challenging experience that doesn't differ drastically from its predecessor but offers far better value.