American Mensa Academy is a brain training game, similar in many ways to Brain Age
and other games of the genre. But like any system, it has it’s flaws and it’s advantages. We’ll start off with the positive. The game starts off fairly simple and increases in difficulty fairly quickly, so while it will be accessible to younger players it will still work up to a moderate challenge for the average adult. The mini games are broken in to 5 sections (Language, Numeracy, Logic, Visual, and Memory) with 20 difficulty levels per section.
The first 5 levels feel like a crawl, but as you proceed past that point you actually get to start using your brain. In addition, there’s a coaching mode that lets you test yourself in specific mini games for 3 different medals (Bronze, Silver, Gold as usual). The big challenge the game presents for when you really feel like thinking is the Test mode. The system generates variable Mensa-style IQ tests for the user to take. 30 problems are presented with a 15 minute time limit, you can skip questions and come back to them, and you don’t need to answer every question to be scored. Now would be a good time to get in to the negatives, so I’ll start here. One of the achievements for high test scores is “Mensa Material”. Mensa accepts individuals with scores in the top 2%. Currently, 5.6% of the steam players who own the game have this achievement, and that’s counting the individuals who haven’t been scored at least once. Out of the scored individuals on the leaderboard, about 12% have earned this achievement. This leads me to believe that the “Mensa style tests” they provide are not actually up to Mensa’s rigorous standards. While this isn’t necessarily bad for people just looking for a brain training game, people who got the game expecting to truly challenge themselves against the standards of the famous high IQ society may be a bit let down.
Either that, or the majority of the game’s buyers are above average to varying degrees. Another shortcoming is that the game offers no regimented training experience, such as the daily activities in Brain Age. A key to learning is consistency in practice, but the game itself provides no schedule. You have to set your own limits and stick to them. Personally, I don’t find this to be an inconvenience, but I think what a lot of people liked about Brain Age is that they kept you doing things in a pattern that really facilitated improvement. Also, while Brain Age keeps track of positive and negative progress using charts, AMA only provides high scores per-mini game-per-level with no information on how these scores are calculated, and leaderboards to compare yourself to other online players in the 3 game modes (and even then, only on total amount of stars/medals earned total across all mini games, or on test scores) All in all, it’s worth the 20 dollars. This is a game that will help you keep your brain from going soft in between the real mental work involved in real life, just maybe not the best game it could be.
August 2, 2012
Silverball Studios Limited
Square Enix, Inc.