Thursday, 23 August 2012

Getting back in the game (product review)

After a years maternity leave I return to work next month. How I feel about that is a log post in its self, but one of the things that worries me is getting my brain back in to work mode. Being a mum is hard work and a constant challenge, but the challenges are along the lines of how do I get strawberry stains out, how do I put a nappy on a child that won't stay still and does this crying mean my daughter is tired, hungry, over stimulated, sick, in pain, lonely, bored or a combination of the above.

At work challenges will include: having to form coherent sentences in front of people that may notice if I talk rubbish, quickly identifying problems and suggesting solutions, writing reports, dealing with figures (other than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 once I caught a fish alive) and generally paying a lot more attention to detail.

To try and get ready for work I've been aiming for at least one adult conversation a week (that doesn't include development milestones, the contents of nappies or sleep) and I have been trying to remember how to write again using this blog.

Recently I got the opportunity to try and wake my brain up in another way by trying out the Mensa Academy game on Wii. I admit I am the sort of person that enjoys those tests you get a job interviews and I enjoyed the brain training games on Nintendo DS (although I thought there wasn't enough variety) so I was optimistic that I would like the Mensa Academy game and I wasn't disappointed.

I eventually managed to persuade my husband to take a break from the Olympics and we settled down in front of the TV with my Mother-in-law. There may have also been a few glasses of wine. I have since played the game on my own a few times to try out all the options and to take the Mensa test.

Game play Mensa Academy on Wii

The Highs

  • You can have up to 3 different profiles allowing different users to keep their scores separate.
  • You can play on your own or with up to 3 others in party mode (provided you have enough Wii remotes)
  • There are lots of different puzzles divided into language, numeracy, logic, visual and memory.
  • You can choose the level of difficulty
  • There are 2 multi-player modes: brain fighter and brain race.
  • After playing games to train your brain you can complete a Mensa Test: 30 questions in 15 minutes
  • My fast asleep maternity leave baby brain got the same score in the Mensa test as my sleep deprived husband:128
  • The games are on creative back drops with musical accompaniment
  • My mother in law said she could happily "invite the girls over" and spend an evening having fun with the game.

Multi player game play Mensa Game Academy on Wii

The Lows

  • A few of the games could be completed by younger children, but generally this isn't a family game and a reasonable level of Maths and English language is required to play all the games.
  • There is no option to turn the music off. This didn't bother me, but my MIL found the music distracting because she kept trying to work out what each piece was. There is always the mute button!
  • When the characters talk it is quiet in relation to the music, an issue I've noticed in a few other games before, but it doesn't cause any problems.
  • If you want to play the multi-player mode you need a decent resolution screen and good eyesight: party mode splits the making games with detail difficult to see, even on our 40 inch full HD screen. We enjoyed taking turns in the single player mode and laughing at other people's mistakes.

Game play Mensa Academy on Wii

My Verdict

Mensa Academy is a fun way to get your brain working. You can concentrate and play on your own or enjoy it with others and laugh at your friends and family's weaknesses. I wasn't a fan of the multi player games because some games were hard to see, but the single player mode is great. There is enough variety to keep things interesting and challenging, but easy to understand what it is you need to do. I'd recommend it for anyone 14 years plus who wants to give their brain a work out.

Mensa Academy is currently available on  Nintendo Wii and DS and on PC.  Other platforms including mobile, Playstation & Xbox are available soon.  More information available about Mensa Academy here

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