Smart As
| Smart As

Given the popularity of Dr Kawashima's Brain Training on the DS back in the day, it's perhaps quite a surprise that more of these brainy puzzle games haven't popped up. Or at least haven't seen the same level of buzz around them.

Considering you can't move on the Tube nowadays for fear of bumping into someone's mobile device and that said mobile devices are ideal for bite-sized gaming, you'd think that these daily brain exercises program would have taken over the mobile world over the last couple of years.

Yet, here I am struggling to name one such title.

Smart As for the PS Vita is hoping to fill that void and help us grow some extra brain cells. It's a well-produced piece of kit, too, although it quickly shows itself to be rather shallow.

Smarty Pants

Think the original Brain Training with online leaderboards, and you've pretty much conjured up Smart As.

Each day, you're given four mini-games to complete. These micro-games test a specific part of your brain: logic, language, observation, and arithmetic. Once you've finished, you're given a percentage for the day, and your performance is compared against everyone else in the world playing the game.

The tools for comparing yourself with the rest of the world are gorgeous and hugely detailed. You can zoom out to see who the best in the world is, or zoom in and see which countries and people are the highest ranking in each area. It all works faultlessly.

The use of Near is - for a change - rather nice, too. You can set down challenges in any areas you visit, and then other people who are playing the game there can pick the challenges up and attempt to beat you.

It helps that it's all very slick, well put together, and narrated by the wonderful John Cleese, who is genuinely entertaining. Cleese has done for Smart As what Stephen Fry did for LittleBigPlanet - made it just that little bit classy.

But, not as Smart As...

Unfortunately, Smart As's gameplay can't match Cleese in the entertainment stakes, and the overall package consequently begins to lose its appeal rather rapidly.

For the first few days, Smart As seems like something you're going to want to revisit every morning. After a week, though, your percentage barely changes with every passing day, you're invited to play the same games every day, and you begin to wonder, "Why do I bother? What am I getting out of this?"

Because the world scoreboards feature your latest percentage rank - rather than some sort of cumulative representation of what you've achieved overall - it means that one day you can be the stupidest person in the world, and then the next you're the greatest. It makes it all feel slightly pointless.

We even realized that if you accidentally slip up on one of the four mini-games for the day, you can simply restart the entire game and try again, thus essentially gaming the system.

You can also head into the free play section and play a selection of relatively interesting mini-games, but there's nothing there that will particularly knock your socks off, and you can't quickly restart a mini-game, meaning you'll be staring at loading screens for longer than you'd like.

It also raises the question, 'Why are we given the same base mini-games each day for the daily training when all of these other games are available, too?'

Smart As feels like a great starting point for a potentially brilliant daily brain training title. All it now needs is for someone on the game's dev team to put real analytic thinking into it. As it stands, Smart As isn't as smart as it thinks.

Smart As

Initial impressions of Smart As are good, but the game rapidly shows itself to be a brain training title lacking any in-depth planning