SONY PSP REVIEW: PQ PRACTICAL INTELLIGENCE QUOTIENT

You don't have to be a genius to play PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient - but you just might become one after you play it. by Cole Smith

January 17, 2006 - PQ is a puzzle-solving game that incorporates variations of animated IQ tests. Deep thinking is involved but the game is not presented like some sterile laboratory experiment. It's quirky and fun but it will certainly challenge your gray matter.

In my high-school psychology class the teacher was trying to prove a point about IQ tests. She claimed that like regular tests, they could be studied for, resulting in a higher score. We all took the first test and my results were decent. But after some practice, using different questions of course, I ended up scoring a genius IQ on an entirely different test - along with about half the class. It just goes to show that you can't always trust test results.

The reason this experiment worked is because we were taught how to understand the question. Some IQ questions are presented in a rather cryptic form. If you haven't had prior experience with these kinds of questions then you may have trouble understanding exactly what's expected of you. There are math puzzles in which you are given a series of numbers and are asked to determine the sequence formula and fill in the missing numbers. An example of an answer would be that the numbers correspond to the days in the month in alphabetical order. In other examples you will be shown a 2D image of a 3D box and asked to determine what shape it would resemble when unfolded. Once you wrap your head around these kinds of questions and how to solve them things can be a whole lot easier the next time around.

PQ is somewhat dangerous. I realize that I'm editorializing all over the place but for good reason. I want to make the point that although PQ claims to be able to actually measure your intelligence, this is still a game. The results are not legal and binding. You're not an idiot and you're probably not a genius regardless of what the results are. Achieving a really low score can scar younger gamers for life by generating feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Whatever you do with this game, have fun and don't take it as seriously. Consider the results as accurate as those of a Ouija board, which is to say, don't believe anything a game tells you kids.

And that wraps up my public service for this month.


IQ tests have sure changed a lot since the analog days of pen and paper. I applaud the 3D interactive presentation that resembles the puzzles found in action games. Various aspects of intelligence will be tested including memory and logic. This is accomplished through a third-person perspective. Controlling an avatar which resembles the outline of a man, you move it around in various arenas attempting to solve whatever puzzle stands in the way of your exit from the arena. You will encounter mazes, lasers, platforms and enemies. Like an action game you will have to solve these puzzles using memory, pattern recognition, spatial configuration, reflexes and logic. You will use various means to accomplish your goal such as moving and sorting items, switch flipping and platforming. The game is designed to test you on your brain skills and not your gaming skills.

Your avatar will be confronted with a variety of blocks, walls, platforms and other obstacles. You can move some of these in various configurations to clear a path for yourself. Blocks can be pushed and piled to clear a path. You will sometimes use the blocks to actually block things such as lasers, making it safe for you to clear the area.

I was kind of disappointed that there were no actual math sequences or language-based tests to solve. There is a general lack of variety as all of the puzzles incorporate the room-escape premise. It's still a lot of fun but where are those classic, "If Shelly's sister is her mother's first cousin, what color is their trailer?"

Each puzzle gets harder to solve as you progress. Each task is outlined clearly so there should be no problem understanding the question. An overhead map will help you keep track of where you are and where you're going but you will find that the camera angles tend to obscure your view at times. You can change the angle by pressing the shoulder button but once you let go the camera instantly returns to the original position. By then you've already wasted a few of those precious seconds. Keep in mind you're not just gauged on completing your task, you're also gauged on time. According to the game, the faster you can solve the puzzles, the smarter you are. You can even post your scores on the online leaderboard if you really believe that you're a wise-ass.

You can improve your score by trying the whole exercise again. You have to actually exit the game to restart it. If you just reset the game, the obstacles will return to their original locations but you will still be judged on your initial number of tries and time.

With wire-frame graphics, grids, geometric designs and an overall color scheme inspired by a blueprint, PQ reminds me of Tron. The presentation reminds me of another eclectic PS2 game called Rez in which an avatar moves through cycberspace shooting at strange obstacles while affecting the music and overall speed of the game.

Techno music will accompany you on your 100 tasks and while the music is kind of bland it doesn't interfere with your thinking when situations get a little tougher. There are some ambient noises such as footsteps and the sounds of boxes being moved but overall the sound effects are kept to a minimum. The graphics are smooth and the collision detection system is virtually flawless. As I've mentioned, the only real fly in the ointment are the camera angles.

PQ is for puzzle fans and especially those that love the puzzles found in action adventure games. Imagine distilling an action game down to its most basic and fun components, with no lame storyline or cutesy characters to interact with. The IQ scoring is nothing more than a novelty but it does stimulate you to do your best. Regardless, it's just for fun and shouldn't be taken seriously by any stretch although through repeated playing you can increase your score.

There's not a lot of lasting appeal to PQ. Although I think it's a lot of fun and the idea is certainly novel, it's not far removed from being a novelty. There have been other IQ games, most notably IQ: Intelligence Cube for the original Playstation and IQ Remix+: Intelligent Cube for the PS2. So by no means is this game revolutionary but the presentation is definitely original. Not to mention that this is a portable version and can be easily passed on to your friends.

I wouldn't recommend purchasing it because you won't get your money's worth of gameplay. This is the kind of game that should have been included as an unlockable bonus feature. It just feels too short and the presentation is redundant. It's definitely worth a rental but that's all I can recommend. If you're interested in the kind of IQ tests that I mentioned earlier you can find different examples all over the net.

Features:

  • 100 various logic puzzles presented in 3D
  • All gameplay takes place on a grid. You must get your character to the exit. Puzzles include:
  • Boxes: Create a clear path on the grid to access the exit. Boxes placed in the path can be pushed or pulled but not carried
  • Stairs: Move the boxes to create a series of stairs to access the upper level
  • Escalator: Figure out which set of escalators will take you to the next platform until you reach the exit
  • Lasers: Move the boxes on the grid to block the laser beam and move toward the exit without crossing a beam
  • Great pick-up-and play appeal. Play during a short break or during a long commute.
  • Using the Infrastructure Mode, players can connect to the Internet and check their ranking against other players. Access to the ranking service is free.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
PQ: Practical Intelligent Quotient (PSP)
4.0
Graphics
The presentation is basic and simplistic. It has a consistent, futuristic, cyberspace look to it that is reminiscent of Tron.
4.3
Control
The camera will occasionally obscure your view and cost you some time.
2.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is low-key techno that doesn't interfere with your thinking. Sound effects are kept to a minimum.
3.5
Play Value
Play it through a few times, increase your score, tell everyone that you're a friggin' genius and see who the hell cares.
4.2
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PSP
Dev: Now Productions
Pub: D3
Release: Jan 2006
Players: 1
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best