|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Razorback Developments||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Eidos Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 29, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
The Brain Age titles made learning fun and quirky, but their arrival and subsequent popularity ushered in a new hellish era of sinister doppelgangers all vying for the same super-saturated market share. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, especially when that "good" thing potentially involves mathematics or other tools of learning. It's getting to the point where it seems nearly every DS title publisher out there has haphazardly fired off one or more crappy puzzle games promising to give your gray matter a solid work out.
By all appearances, Razorback Developments' Brain Voyage could easily be lumped into that category. Since they slapped a big old juicy brain on the otherwise sparsely decorated cover with the words "brain" featured prominently in the tile, you'd think the game was in fact some sort of mind expanding gimmick. All is not what it appears. Instead, it's a fairly uninspiring collection of puzzle mini-games that provides fleeting moments of entertainment. Aside from making you actually have to think a bit, the game doesn't necessarily purport to make you smarter. It's more likely to give you a headache.
In Brain Voyage you'll meet up with the (self-proclaimed) renowned and somewhat scary-looking German board game designer Dr. Reiner Knizia. The run-in transpires at an airport of all places, and the good doctor approaches you out of the blue with a proposition to join him on a trip around the world to "broaden your mind." You don't really have a choice in the matter - save from turning off your DS - and it seems more than a tad creepy that he has taken the liberty to pack a suitcase for you ahead of time. From there it's off you go on the doc's globetrotting puzzle mini-game adventure. Actually, it's more like Dr. Reiner Knizia's insipid journey through puzzle game hell.
Your trek will send you gallivanting across the far reaches of the globe to visit 16 different locations where you'll test your puzzle-solving abilities in a wide range of mini-games. You'll visit London, Moscow, Las Vegas, Greenland, New York City, and numerous other seemingly random cities. The puzzlers themselves are simply older games like Mine Sweeper, Mastermind, Simon, and Poker disguised with fresh visuals and occasionally tweaked gameplay. Other games involve counting, matching, picking out differences between two elements, and other tasks. To suggest there's anything amazingly new here is nonsense. None of the puzzle games are particularly unique or original, but their presentation does give them the illusion of being fresh for a little while. A first glance at a new puzzle quickly becomes a game in itself: guessing exactly which thinly disguised game it is and where you've encountered it before.