I’m a sucker for puzzles, whether it’s a crossword, Sudoku, a word search or just lateral thinking. This is why I loved Professor Layton on the DS and The Curse on iOS. One of my go to games on the DS however was Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training. Therefore when I heard that Sony was bringing the ever popular brain training genre to the Vita in the form of Smart As… my interest was more than peaked.
Launched exclusively through the PlayStation Network Smart As… is not a game as such; but it is exactly what you would expect from the genre: a range of tests and challenges designed to not only measure your intelligence but also give your mind a workout resulting in a continual improvement.
Smart As… doesn’t take itself too seriously and as such is not really a true measure of how smart you or how smart your friends are; but as the game encourages, you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to rub it in your friends faces when you gain the highest score.
The main aspect of Smart As… is based around the Daily Challenge which effectively is series of tests and challenges that measures your intelligence and compares it not only with the world but also your prior performances. As the title suggest which you can only do this once per day.
Each test is designed to measure and exercise a different section of your brain with observation, logic, arithmetic and language games. With five different tests within each category chosen at random in each daily session you are kept on your toes by never knowing what exactly Smart As will throw at you each day. The level of the challenge varies greatly; from the simple, touch the front or back touchpad in the area specified, to the challenging, roll the blocks to the specified destination.
After you complete a daily challenge one of the tests will be unlocked in the freeplay mode. This allows you to practice the test and gradually increase the level of difficulty as you improve your ability before the following days challenge. This is the first drawback as initially your experience feels throttled as you only have a minimal amount of tests you can undertake. How much of an incentive to keep on playing for a few weeks in order to fully unlock all of the tests within Smart As… really depends on your level of patience.
However the free play mode has a very addictive “one more go” aspect to it as you find yourself trying to beat your last score and get the full three stars in your current difficulty so that Smart As… launches a “Near” challenge for anyone in the vicinity.
The tests vary in terms of how you complete them but every element of the PlayStation Vita is utilised over the course of the 20 tests. The front and rear touch panels are extensively featured throughout Smart As… as well as the cameras, the tilt and the AR card functions.
Although using the same game engine as Borderlands 2 utilised may be a little excessive the presentation is highly polished with simplistic bold colours that make the visuals both clean and crisp. When this is coupled with the humour of a quirky – and very often snigger inducing – John Cleese commentary, it’s very hard to find fault with these aspects of Smart As…
What does let Smart As… down is the input method for many of the language tests. Instead of utilising a touch keyboard you have to draw the letter or number on a small whiteboard. This caused me numerous problems to begin with due to my writing style. Various letters and numbers were recognised as something different to what I was trying to input until I started to learn what form Smart As… was looking for. Personally I would have preferred to have spent 20 minutes setting up my inputs for each letter and number rather than having to learn what my Vita was looking for “on the fly”.
All of the tests out with the language section issues are fun and enjoyable to play. Once you have completed your daily challenge Smart As… comes into its own in the social media and leaderboard integration which actively promotes competition between you and other Smart As… players through Facebook and Twitter; luckily this is only published to these outlets when you tell Smart As.. to publish them so you don’t end up spamming your friends feeds.
Smart As… is a fun and enjoyable diversion when you have only a little time to spare and is perfect for commuting and those Toilet Gaming moments. However once you have completed all of the tests in freeplay mode I believe that it is only a matter of time before you stop coming back daily to do that days brain workout; but until that time arrives it’s an enjoyable ride throughout.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Platform: PlayStation Vita Release Date: 30/10/2012
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Smart As… for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days on a PS Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.