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Monday, November 22, 2021

Expanding my Brain in the Limited Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain Demo

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - My brain's BIG-LEAGUE. I don't need this academy, clearly.

This is apparently a “Ludwig brags about high scores he got in a game demo.” article. Anyway, Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain releases this December 3, 2021 exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. To remind people that the game exists (and the enormous social good it does for a fractured Earth), Nintendo released a demo last week. It's very quick, so I recommend you download it and let me know how you did.

First, you go through some very limited avatar creation, customising your looks and a quote. And then you can play three activities out of the... twenty that it seems are available in the full game. Only in practice mode. The full game has a test mode that will chain them together and give you a holistic brain score across five categories, in addition to ghost-data-based online multiplayer. The demo also had local multiplayer available, but I didn't check that out.

The three available games (and my high scores) are...

Big Brain Academy Brain vs Brain demo Compute Balloon Burst platinum medal 1035
Several balloons with numerical values appear on screen at a time. Select them in order of lowest to highest.
Once all the balloons are popped, more will appear to repeat the process.
The balloons will appear in different sizes, will move, and will eventually have fractions and negative numbers.

Big Brain Academy Brain vs Brain demo Identify Whack Match triple gold medal 831
You are given a list of items.
Moles will appear from holes carrying many items, one of which matches your list at a time.
Whack the mole carrying the item that's on your list and continue until the list is clear.
Then continue with your new list. The moles will dig back down faster and faster.
Whacking a mole with an object not on your list will give you a penalty.

Big Brain Academy Brain vs Brain demo Visualize Shadow Shift triple gold medal 868
Several objects’ silhouettes appear at the top and will slowly move and rotate around.
You will have all of those objects, and more, on the lower half. Choose all of the objects that are above.
If you select an object that is not above, you will get a penalty.

You can try the three activities as much as you'd like, and restart them mid-play. No pausing, though. If you try to cheat by going to the HOME screen during an activity, it'll boot you out of the session. These things last a minute each and quickly get more difficult (but also award more point values) as they get into the different difficulty classes mid-game. The kind of brain activity they're measuring is how fast your brain can process the information in front of you... and then relay the directions to your finger(s) to take action based on that information. Hesitation can kill your run.

Big Brain Academy Brain vs Brain demo Balloon Burst compute fractions
An example of Balloon Burst. The proper order is...
6/7, 6/6, 6/4, 6/3, 6/2.
I imagine this game is significantly faster with a touch screen than with a stick and a button.

Me insisting on using the Pro Controller might also hamper my runs of these, since the games were designed many years ago for the Nintendo DS's touch screen and just poking at answers with a stylus. One of the biggest mistakes for the Switch is the lack of a stylus, of course. ...Well, you might have also seen those trailers with the families all seated around a docked Switch with their Joy-Cons. They're all using button controls like I did! They just don't feel great, especially the balloon one, because you're not moving the selection target around linearly. I don't blame my brain for not bashing in those moles fast enough... but the controls. Yes.

Still, it cognitively makes sense that Compute would be my best score by far. I'm pretty good at math! A bit more than this... somewhat abstract visual recognition stuff. Especially that Shadow Shift where you can have six silhouettes overlapping one another (while moving) and your choices all have pretty similar features. It's possible, but it requires concentration... while being put under time pressure. It's legitimately difficult!

Go ahead and share your scores in the comments section below. Providing screenshot proof would be cool, too. The game is pretty much designed for using the Switch's screenshot capture feature and sharing those. Ludwig thinks his scores are better than whatever yours are.

Don't let this demo give you the impression that all of the game's graphics are cute cartoons. Some are photos!


  1. Even if your scores are better than mine, it won't count towards the grander scheme of the Splatfest if we are only fighting Brain vs Brain.

  2. "Ludwig thinks his scores are better than whatever yours are."

    Challenge accepted. Though I don't know how to put a screenshot in these comments.

    1. Okay HOW in the heck did you get so high in Shadow Shift, I can't get anywhere NEAR 800 there!

    2. You upload the image somewhere else and link to it in the comment.

      The trick with Shadow Shift is to observe the edges of the silhouettes; especially with the monster creature things because when they are overlapping it's their perimeters that stick out. So one monster might have antennas that go up while another's are more horizontal, and that's how you can tell them apart.


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