Brain or Money? is one of the oddest games I have ever played. It is supposed to be a kind of quasi-board game, where each player must answer questions while playing a monkey themed mini game. At least, that’s what I think it is.
You see, I haven’t actually been able to get the game to ask me a question, even after having read the rules a dozen times to see if I was missing something obvious. The best thing to do is to talk you through the entire game, to see if I have completely missed the point here.
OK, you start a game, and select ‘add/edit’ players, which allows you to add and custom name all the players, with a minimum of two required to play, and you then click ‘Start Game’. Right, so far, so good. You are then presented with a screen that has a monkey presiding over a pile of cards with a question mark over them. There is also a button that takes you to a screen that allows you to purchase more question packs. Upon touching the question pile, a random subject pops up, for example ‘Computer Brands’ with a score value underneath. OK, again, so far so good. I get ready for the questions related to that subject and press ‘done’. Only to be taken to a screen where you have to press a stick on one end, with a monkey balanced on the other. Press it too long and he will eat too many bananas, breaking the stick, and press it too little and the ‘press this’ prompt will reappear.
Once he either eats to many bananas(takes a second or two) or you let him fall, the round ends and you are asked to tell the game who failed. That’s it. See, no questions
Now, the four of us have been trying to figure this game out for an hour now, with little luck. The only thing we can think the point of this game is, when the game asks you, for example, ‘Computer Brands’ what it is actually asking you for is ‘Name as many computer brands as you can’. What does this have to do with the monkey mini game? Well, again this is after an hour of arguing, checking the iTunes listing(which is mildly better than the awful in game tutorial), and trying repeated games, we think you have to take turns, naming as many of each subject as you can(by actually saying them out loud!), at the same time taking turns with the iPhone, and monkey, with you telling the game whoever let the monkey fall.
I have one piece of advice for the developer: if this is what you have to do in the game, then guys you really need to explain it better. A simple ‘next player!’ pop up with a three second timer to pass the phone would help. Also, if this is what you have to do, how on Earth do you know whether what people are saying are the correct answers? And, when the monkey dies when you are passing the phone, who actually loses? The giver or the taker? I always say to game developers with new concepts- test your game by giving it to someone without telling them anything about it at all and see how they get on.
Alas, the sheer bafflement factor is only one of the problems here. The game changes from a landscape to a portrait rotation far too often. Pick a card, portrait. Play the monkey part, landscape. Annoying.
I also found a bug where, if you go to purchase more question packs, and decide to change your mind, there is no way to get back to the game. Yes, the only way to get back to the main screen, aside from buying a pack, is to exit the game, remove it from the multitasking bar and restart it.
There are some positives here. I liked the designs of the characters, the music is really good, the game is free, and it didn’t crash on me. The problem with the game isn’t that the concept is completely bad, but when you are relying on the players for so much of your game, you need to walk them through it a little more. A better explanation of the game, some kind of gap between plays(really) to stop cheating are both desperately needed. The game doesn’t even let you know you have to say the answers out loud instead of waiting for questions!!!
Seriously flawed, and a classic example of a game concept not being explained properly, and executed poorly, Brain or Monkey? needs a lot of work I’m afraid. I do still have the feeling though, that this could be good- with a lot of work put into it.
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