Once upon a time, the brain got away with being the laziest muscle in the body. Lodged firmly within the cranium, it cleverly delegated all of the hard work of actually moving to the other muscles, leaving it to wallow and bloat. And bloat it did, thanks to modern day no-thinking-required conveniences like, well, the Daily Mail.
But one meddling doctor came along, bringing with him the concept of exercised, leaner, meaner brains, and Nintendo's Brain Training changed the entertainment world. He even brought his special brand of cranial cardio to mobile earlier this year in Brain Coach with Dr Kawashima.
Such was his popularity that many have attempted to usurp Dr. Kawashima's throne, and one of the many pretenders is this, Digital Chocolate's Brain Tester 24 Pack. But, unlike most of them, Brain Tester comes close to standing a chance.
Like its name suggests, Brain Tester tests brains. And also like its name suggests, it's a pack of 24 mini-games, divided up into four categories. Perception tests how quickly you can notice certain things, like whether a word is written in the colour that it describes or whether a given word is hidden inside a word search. Memory-themed games test your ability to recall facts, such as a sequence of left-right moves or whether an animal was present in a previously-shown line up.
The Spatial games, on the other hand, discern your skill at working out where objects are and judging spaces, by making you do things like press a button at the right time to make a chameleon eat a fly. Finally, the Logic games evaluate logical thinking skills, like quickly working out whether taking the left or right path in a maze will lead to the goal.
Each game is cleverly designed to work well on mobile, only requiring either a timed button press or a choice between left and right. And while that may sound overly limiting, in fact the games have such variety that picking between the two directions never really feels boring.
In addition to a Test mode, which picks one game from each of the categories and works out an overall brain score, the mini-games can be played individually. Playing these games well unlocks achievements, similar to its identically-named Xbox Live Arcade inspiration. While winning an achievement only gives you access to an interesting general knowledge fact, it's still a well-structured incentive to continually replay the games until mastered.
Of course, the scientific basis for these games, and indeed any brain training activity, is sketchy - especially here where the games aren't based on scientific study. In the interests of both science and you, our readers, we tried the games when drunk - and, scarily, scored better in all areas bar Perception. And, given that's what people say suffers most when drunk, there may be more science behind these than you'd initially think.
But regardless of the scientific content, Brain Tester 24 Pack is good, wholesome thinking fun, crammed full of well-designed and interesting games and served up with Digital Chocolate's trademark visual polish. Just don't expect your lardy brain to thank you for it.