Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! was a surprise hit on the Nintendo DS when it came out in 2006. With a simple premise of testing a player's knowledge on various topics by using puzzles, Brain Age showed that the latest graphics and complex multiplayer functions are not needed to sell a game. With almost 19 million copies of Brain Age sold, coupled with a low cost development behind it, the game was a very lucreative success for Nintendo.
Sony is no doubt trying to make lightning strike again with Smart As..., its own brain training software. Like Brain Age, the game makes use of the touch screen to solve puzzles and questions. There are tasks ranging from spelling tests to number counting to connecting dots, and they are all very addictive. The game interestingly runs on the Epic's Unreal engine, which means that the graphics are simple yet detailed. Despite the sparse presentation, the polygonal graphics are high resolution, meaning there is almost no aliasing during gameplay.
Beyond the gameplay and graphics, the other standout feature is the voice acting, which is done by none other than famous British comedian, John Cleese. There is a surprising amount of commentary in the game, though it seems like a missed opportunity that the comedian is not featured prominently on the box artwork. Since there is no campaign mode in Smart As... per se, it is designed to be played once a day for a few minutes in order for player progress to be tracked. As such, buying the game as a digital download and keeping it on your Vita is highly recommended, as it will save you time from switching carts every time you want to play it.
Smart As... is nice looking for a puzzle game, but the graphics are still simple compared to other games on the handheld.
Keeping in line with the minimalist presentation of the game, sounds and music are sparse. The extensive voice work done by John Cleese is the obvious highlight.
The game makes extensive use of the touch screen, with the controls are responsive and good at recognising user input. The rear touch pad also gets utilised.
Fun Factor: 5.0
There is no campaign mode in Smart As..., but its simple yet addictive gameplay will ensure that you will play it every day in attempt to beat your earlier high score.
- Well implemented puzzle gameplay that makes use of the Vita's touch screen.
- Focus on daily progress over a dedicated single player campaign may confuse some players.
There are several high profile games coming out on Vita during the Christmas season, but Smart As... could be the best one of the lot.