We've been waiting some time for an iOS game that can give the likes of Brain Training a run for its money. Franchise knock-offs have cropped up on the App Store ever since the dawn of mobile gaming, but none have really delivered on their promises. So what does Square Enix bring to the table?
The answer is a partnership with the most famous boffin gathering of all, Mensa, to port the brain-tickling Mensa Academy from the 3DS to mobile phones. In this game you'll find all of the staples of the IQ test, from the traditional word games that have you identify opposite meanings, to numerical puzzles that ask you to fill in the missing pieces of a string of numbers, as well as fraction and logic puzzles galore.
What could otherwise have been a rather dry experience is livened up no end by the styling of the game. All of the puzzle types play out on a theater stage where props and scenery slide into place like a pop-up book: tower-bound maidens appeal for help in solving fractions, solar systems make a backdrop for piecing together robotic faces from memory, and ballroom dancers glide as you complete audio memory puzzles. Top all of this off with a wonderful classical score and you'll soon find yourself charmed just as much as you're challenged.
As well as lively use of artwork, there's also plenty of room for some imaginative puzzles that you might not have encountered before in tests of this kind. Patrolling cardboard animals move across the scene on sticks, and you'll be challenged to question their order of appearance shortly afterwards. You'll also have to solve logical puzzles based on the mixing of paints, and the color you should expect from different mixtures. The sheer variety of content on offer here means it will be a very long time until you've worked your way through every increasingly difficult set of puzzles.
There are three different modes in the game, all of which take in each type of test. If you find the mixing up of game types a little too much to handle, you can practice them individually for a bronze, silver or gold reward in the Coach section. If you're really feeling on top of your game, you can even take on the randomized Test section, although you'll be thrown straight in at the deep end, and likely to discover you have the IQ of a dog if you haven't familiarized yourself with the puzzle types beforehand.
The game is certainly packed with content and presented with panache, but we did encounter occasional issues where finger-touches weren't registered correctly or quickly. This only really happens when you tackle a problem with multiple answers bunched up close together, but if you're careful to make very deliberate touches in these situations, it won't cause you too many problems.
As a game, Mensa Academy only adds fuel to the fiery debate about whether these sort of tests really do prove how intelligent you are, or simply prove how much better your results become through practice. Regardless, this mobile brain-bender is very worthy of the title of iOS gaming's Brain Training. It's varied, brisk, challenging, charmingly produced and packed full of content.
Review code provided by Square Enix.
What's Hot: A huge collection and variety of tantalizing puzzles in a perfectly realized package.
What's Not: Very occasional control issues take the shine off an otherwise faultless production.