Review by Arkrex

Reviewed: 05/29/07

Not Another Brain Game!

Since the arrival of Brain Age for the DS, it suddenly became all the rage to hone one's intellectual ability via non-gaming on the go. MinDStorm is yet another brain training title to jump aboard the bandwagon. However despite its imaginative title, the actual quality found here is anything but; they chose some pretty decent activities, but it all falls flat with some very amateurish programming. MinDStorm looks and plays like a decent DS tech-demo, but it has been a good 2 and a half years since the portable console’s launch, so why the heck are we seeing this now?!

Every brain game has some sort of professor-type icon to guide you through the trials and tribulations associated with maximising one’s cerebral potential. MinDStorm has a scruffy, cantankerous and callous moustached man as your tutor and instead of spurring you on like his contemporaries do, he actually seems to HATE you. He’ll make snide remarks on how you’re not good enough, and even as you improve with practise, he will never commend your efforts. In real life I would kick his ass and so to would you.

But we all know that we should aim high for ourselves, not for other people. Cranky geezer aside, we have got 10 different activities offered to us here. With regular training we should be developing the 5 faculties of reason, endurance, analysis, intuition and observation. Or so they say. There are wordy logic puzzles that require you to deduce who plays the flute or whatever, after being given some scant information. Another game will see you trying to locate a specified shape within a meshwork of fine lines. And one of my favourites involves rotating and fitting some Tetris blocks into a defined frame. But then there are some that scream “I can’t be bothered thinking up any more interesting activities”, and as a result you have got duds like the oh-so-original tile-sliding puzzles and a spot-the-difference act that is more cumbersome than having to scrounge for a local newspaper.

Most of the games are fast-paced and over in a matter of seconds. The main mode will give you a set number of minutes to complete as many tasks as you can without error. You’ll see that there are a couple of categories here that are supposed to be chosen depending on your current circumstances while playing, be it relaxing at home or riding the train to work. Bearing in mind that there are only 10 different activities in all, the differences between each choice is ever-so-slight with perhaps 1 or 2 games being different. It’s a gimmick to cover up the fact that there isn’t really a lot to MinDStorm. Does it really matter where you are taking your break, so long as it’s not in the bathroom?

Then there is the free mode that allows you select the activities you enjoy the most (won’t be too many them though). This is where the bulk of your time will be spent if you decide to embark on the tedious pursuit of attaining a level 100 brain - yes, that’s one of MinDStorm’s hooks, but it’s so poorly implemented that most people won’t care. As you perform well in each area (2 games dedicated to each of the 5 faculties), you will receive Brain Points(?) and just like in your typical RPG, once you’ve broken past the threshold, you’ll gain a level. What’s the point of it all? Each level you gain will unlock a riddle question or answer (so 50 riddles in all). These riddles can be accessed at any time from the main menu and involve some thinking outside of the square to solve. However they aren’t interactive at all; you merely read the question, ponder over it for a bit, and then simply read the answer and see if you can make sense of it all. They aren’t interesting at all, and with this being the only reward for your hard levelling efforts, the answer to the question I posed 4 sentences back is “nothing”.

So I have just attained the coveted level 100, and I did so in a fraction of the time it takes for die-hard World of Warcraft players to reach their present level 70 cap. My prize is the following message: “You can't make any more progress than this. You can not advance beyond this level, but it is important to keep training.”
...
Since when did our brain capacity have a limit? According to this game I’m now a genius of sorts, and all it took was about 4-5 hours of playing while multi-tasking. The above statement is absurd and it just says to me that MinDStorm was intended to create smart people, yet it was developed by some individuals who clearly are not that themselves.

There’s just not enough substance in MinDStorm. Brain games don’t tend to be lookers, but the dull, basic design seen here (full of typos might I add) gives the impression of a product that no-one really cared for when making, and so why should we? Some of the activities seen here are actually used in real life aptitude testing, and so they could have been useful to those wanting to prepare for such exams. But since the games are highly repetitive with a very limited set of variants, you won’t be doing yourself any favour by warming up with them. There isn’t anything else that might appeal to the casual gamer apart from the name of the game which discreetly sneaks a ‘DS’ into it. It’s boggling how the DS has come so far in over 2 short years, yet there are still some folk who think they can get away with such rubbish. My brain hurt after reaching the pinnacle of MinDStorm. Your brain deserves much better.

Arkrex Analysis
Visuals - C
Sound and Music - C
Gameplay - C+
Controls - C+
Longevity - N/A
Replayability - C
Difficulty - Fairly Easy
VERDICT - 2.5/10

27/05/07

Rating:   1.0 - Terrible

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