|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|
Only a few puzzle locations on the world map are available from the start, and you'll have to rack up high scores to win enough money to buy your way across the land. Each puzzle has five levels that can be unlocked by spending coins earned from obtaining bronze, silver, and gold medals. Persevering in harder levels will earn you bigger bucks and enable you unlock new locations and play modes.
This pay-to-play unlocking mechanic provides some initial incentive to play beyond the first few tiers of puzzles. Unfortunately, not all the puzzles are fun. Most players will find themselves gravitating towards the few mini-games they like and avoiding the rest, but the game forces you to play the crappier puzzles in order to progress. It's really a catch-22, since you have to play lame puzzles in order to unlock more puzzles, but frequently the new ones you'll unlock are just as bad.
The overall presentation in Brain Voyage is a far cry from the sparse visual path so many others brain titles have tread. The graphics are actually decent in this case. Knizia typically goofs around in 3D on the top screen in a variety of costumes and unusual settings, while the touch screen puzzles are colorful and solidly designed. It's far more appealing than the black and white or muted tones of some entries in the genre. The touch-only controls also work well enough. There's nothing fancy about them, but they're certainly as functional as they need to be to play all of the mini-games.
Aside from the main World Tour mode, this package has a few other features. The puzzles change each time you play them, and it's possible to store any particular puzzle in the puzzle bank that can be accessed from the main menu. For a little variety, a randomize feature lets you play through sequences of four, eight, and 16 puzzles. Single card download play lets you share the puzzle hell with a friend. If the game manages to hold your interest for more than a brief time, it will be in the main game where you'll spend it the most. Even if some of the puzzles themselves aren't particularly interesting, it's admittedly addictive trying to hit the high score in the more interesting ones to accumulate coins for unlocking new levels.
For a "brain" game, Brain Voyage has the style and charm that many of its peers are lacking. However, the whole brain gimmick is just that; this is a basic puzzle game collection through and through. There's nothing to track your scores over time or measure any portion of your mental capacity. Serious puzzle fans may find a few hours of enjoyment in this mini-game collection, but it's apt to be a brain drain for everyone else.
CCC Freelance Writer