| Brain Juice
A game that makes you smarter? It's hard to believe that. It's like saying eating chocolate makes you thinner or sitting around watching TV all day makes you more buff.
But there's some truth in it, as Nintendo, among others, has proved with its Brain Training series. Now Digital Chocolate is jumping on the self-help bandwagon with Brain Juice, a game (if it can be called that) that aims to increase your brain power.
The theory goes that the more you use the old grey matter, the better shape it stays in, much like a muscle. So Brain Juice cues up a series of three short challenges that you must complete every day, just like taking your vitamins.
What ensues is a mix of number, shape and colour recognition problems, along with basic mental arithmetic and memory challenges. Your aptitude is then converted into what Brain Juice calls 'brain wattage', a value that's plotted on a graph so that you can view your progress over the days, weeks and months.
To be honest, it's all rather reminiscent of our school days, except we weren't taught by a disembodied brain floating in a lightbulb.
As you complete your three-a-day, you collect medals. The more medals you collect, the greater the range of challenges you open up, ensuring that you don't end up doing the same three exercises day after day.
The varying exercises do serve to stretch differing parts of your mind. The results are also interpreted and turned into a pie chart that shows where your mental strengths lie: visual comprehension, mathematics or memory.
You're then compared to an animal at the end of each exercise. And this is where things start to fall over. Each task, you see, is set against a time limit, so not only do you need to get all the answers correct, you need to get them right as quickly as possible.
It's entirely possible to complete an exercise with a 100 per cent success rate only to be compared to a tortoise. Not what we'd call encouraging. This theme continues, and as you continue you'll be equated to everything from a snail to a greyhound.
We don't know about you, but when did you last see a greyhound that knew the answer to 45/9 x 3?
What's more, anyone who remembers sitting at a desk and staring at a textbook that makes War And Peace look like an easy summertime read knows just how unenjoyable that can be. Not only does boredom set in after the first couple of days, the exercises come down to your dexterity with your phone's keypad as much as they do to the power of your brain.
A practice game mode enables you to try your hand at any of the challenges you've unlocked so far, but with the results not counting toward your brain wattage, it adds little interest. The multiplayer mode wears thin just as quickly. There's just no incentive to keep going.
We've no argument with what Brain Juice is trying to achieve, even if it is a blatant cash-in on the part of Digital Chocolate. It's an honourable aim to try and raise the British public's IQ, but we can't help thinking that a far more enjoyable way of doing so would be to play Sudoku or complete a crossword.
This is because Brain Juice is missing that all-important fun element. The result is an application (to call it a game would be inaccurate) that's more education than edutainment.