Smart As… Preview
Get ready to train your brain again, as the PlayStation Vita plays home to a cerebral exercise of Smart As.
It’s not every day that you load up a brain training game and are greeted by a “Powered by Unreal Engine” splash screen, but then again, Smart As is a more polished title than other titles in the genre, and isn’t a brain training title in the typical sense.
Created by Portsmouth-based Climax (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, EyePet & Friends), the game’s Britishness is incredibly apparent as John Cleese talks you through the game and its features, much like Stephen Fry has done in the LittleBigPlanet series.
Smart As adopts the now familiar concept of loading up the game each day and playing a series of challenges to test your brain power. Split equally into four categories: Observation, Language, Logic and Arithmetic, these 20 mini-games use all of the PlayStation Vita’s abilities to great effect.
As part of the build I’ve been using for this preview, I have had access to eight of the 20 tests. Also available was a Daily Training session, as well as a Free Play mode, that allows you to play any of the mini-games at any time for practice and high scores, while unlocking harder difficulties by performing well. Smart As seems a much more compelling series of challenges than any previous brain training-style game I’ve played previously.
Take Roller Blocks (part of the Logic category) for example. By holding the Vita flat, you are advised to tilt the system to move two coloured cubes so that they are placed upon a tile of the same colour. It’s a short puzzle game that has a simple premise, but later difficulties become a far more challenging proposition.
On the Arithmetic side of things is Less Equals More, a game that gives you two separate columns of numbers. In the middle of these columns are the Greater Than (>), Equal To (=) and Less Than (<) symbols, and you must decide which one the left hand column of numbers is when compared to the right hand column. You must correctly identify the list of numbers as quickly as possible to get a higher score.
Turbo Tap (Observation) relies less on smarts and more on reaction times. Instructions rapidly appear with Front or Rear written on them. You must quickly tap the front touchscreen or read touchpad, with mistakes punished by a five second penalty.
To test your language skills, is the Word Wheel. You are given a wheel with letters on it, and you must rotate the wheel and touch letters to spell a word. Once again, speediness is the order of the day to guarantee a better score.
After performing Daily Training, you are given your score as a percentage. But unlike other games where the score is just a gauge of your own performance, in Smart As you are able to compare your scores for every challenge with everybody in the world. In this modern world of social media, you are also able to share all of your scores with the world via Twitter or Facebook. This added social aspect gives Smart As a bit more depth than similar titles.
With Smart As using every feature of the PlayStation Vita system (including Augmented Reality, something that sadly wasn’t available in this early build) this really does add something new and different to brain training, especially as the various challenges available are actually rather fun.
With the game potentially being a budget title, this could be an important title for the PlayStation Vita, especially to the casual crowd. Offering more polish, character and depth than any similar title, Smart As looks to be a worthy addition to a system that is admittedly lacking in casual appeal (at least when compared to Nintendo portables).