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Jeremy Jastrzab
09 Jul, 2007

Hot Brain Review

PSP Review | Better than wrapping your head in several towels?
Ever since the emergence of Brain Training and Brain Age as industry super powers, other publishers have been looking to emulate the success of these games with even more titles that attempt to make you smarter. For the most part though, the PSP has missed out on such titles. Sure, it has had its WarioWare clones but nothing that could claim to make you smarter. Then along comes the first (of probably many), in the form of Hot Brain. While we're not sure whether the game will really come up with the goods, it does put in a decent effort.

When you first start up Hot Brain, you’re introduced to Dr. Warmer. This kooky fellow introduces you to the general concept behind the game. Basically, you’re told that when subjected to difficult puzzles or maths problems, the brain increases blood flow. The increased blood flow is meant to help brain function but at the same time, will increase the brain’s temperature. Hence, as you play and get better at solving the in-game problems, your brain gets warmer. Possibly to the point where you have, a Hot Brain.

The puzzles in the game come out of five different categories: Logic, Memory, Maths, Language and Concentration. Each of these categories has three games within them. The games themselves are simple to operate, with you being presented a problem, and then required to press the corresponding PSP face button for what is hopefully the correct answer. A couple of them are quite basic in that you’ve seen them in some form or another over the years, though there are also a couple that are in the least, different. At the end of each game, you’re evaluated on how many you got right and how long each response took you.

Ouch.

Ouch.
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There are two basic modes of gameplay, practice and test. Practice allows you to tackle any of the mini-games individually, with your choice of difficulty however, you will need to unlock the medium and hard difficulty levels. Test puts you through one test from each of the five categories and gives you a brain temperature based on the scores from each test. You can do the test as many times as you want but only the first one will count to your progress chart.

For the most part, these scores seem reasonably accurate. You’re looking to avoid the scores on the range that are described either as “Icy”, “Cold” or “Lukewarm.” On the other side of the scale, the game is hoping that your score will eventually read “On Fire.” Given that your most likely dead if your brain was really on fire, you must have quite the hot brain to be achieving those kinds of scores. However, scores for the individual games in practice should be taken with a grain of salt – as we’re pretty sure that our brain temperature isn’t hovering around the 5-degree mark (though given the recent weather…).

The three logic games are as follows: Sequencer requires you to input the next shape or number in a given sequence. Shape logic requires you to figure out the remaining shapes after two or more are combines are taken apart. Back seat driver requires you to guide a taxi driver to a passenger by pressing the button that corresponds to the correct set of directional arrows. This game is actually quite clever and intuitive.

For the memory games, you got Scene of the Crime, which gives you a picture to memorise and a few seconds later you need to pick it out of a line of four. As easy as this sounds, it’s actually quite tricky when very similar and complex images are being shown. Musical Memory requires you to replicate a sequence of provided sounds while Pinball Wizard requires you to pick (from four) posts that were hit the most by a pinball.

Hmm... BLUE!

Hmm... BLUE!
Close
The maths games start off quite simple, with High and Low. This game requires you put the given numbers into the right order, either from lowest or to highest. Equation Sensation (which hardly lives up to its name) requires you to fill in the missing sign that would otherwise complete the equation. Cruise Ship is a counting game where you need to count how many passengers are left on a cruise ship. It’s actually quite a humorous game, as people can go off the ship.

The language games are particularly basic. Spelling Bee requires you to either pick out the word that is spelt correctly or the word that is spelt incorrectly. Picto-rhymes provides you with a picture and you need to pick a word that rhymes with the item in the picture. Alphabet gives you four words and you need to put them in alphabetical order.

Finally, in the concentration category, you have Combine, which requires you to pick a shape to combine with a given shape in order to create a required shape. Shape Up will give you some shapes and you need to pick from the four options which one would be made from combing the given shapes. Untangle provides you with four balls of string and you need to pick the right thread’s end point. Again, this game can get really tricky.

While you may get to a point to where the games become quite repetitive, the real issue is that when you’re practicing, often the flow of the game is interrupted by intermittent loads and repetitive cut-scenes. You don’t want these kinds of issues getting in the way of no-frills casual gaming. The other thing that we’d say about the mini-games is that it would be nice for some - particularly the Maths and Language ones - to indicate the right answer, not just tell us that we got them wrong. Hot Brain also happens to have a multiplayer mode. Two as a matter of fact. One for competitive play and one for co-operative play. It supports up to four players but each player needs a copy of Hot Brain.

Pick circle.

Pick circle.
Close
Finally, the issue with the game is its accessibility and target audience. If you already own a PSP and you take it on your morning/evening commute, there are certainly worse things to do than give your brain a decent work out. However, if you’re a student, most of the games will seem like a chore, rather than something that you’d do for yourself. Furthermore, with games such as Brain Training on the DS and even cheaper but still effective alternatives on the PC such as Mindscape’s Brain Trainer, there are certainly more viable and potentially enticing options out there.

As with pretty much everything in the game, the presentation is quite basic as well. Most of the mini-games are backed-up with a white and patterned background, but in the very least, all the games are functional. A couple have a little style as well, but not a lot. In terms of sound, the in-game sound effects are reasonably sharp and Dr Warmer is voiced by Fred Willard, a highly regarded American comedian. While he does the job, you feel that there could have been a few more lines. Sure, the presentation is basic but it’s disappointing that it hasn’t been done in a more technical proficient manner, particularly for a game that only holds casual attention.

Hot Brain is a passable first up effort for the PSP, in terms of the casual genre. At a below retail price, there are certainly worse things to do when you have a spare couple of minutes. However, the technical performance gets in the way of casual commitment and there are certainly more viable and enticing options out there. It may not set your senses (or your brain) alight but its certainly a decent title if you can’t or don’t want to get a hold of the alternatives.
The Score
While there are worse things to do on your morning commute, there are other, potentially more viable ways, of getting what Hot Brain has to offer. 6
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
6 years ago
Brain Training rip-off for the PSP. :S
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  5/07/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $49.95 AU
Publisher:
  Red Ant
Genre:
  Puzzle
Year Made:
  2007

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