Buzz! Brain Bender
The PSP is, of course, a very different system to the DS, lacking one of the major features that made Brain Training so intuitive – the touch screen. Brain Bender overcomes this by dividing the PSP’s screen down the middle – puzzles appear on the left, answers on the right. Initially slightly jarring for those used to stylus input, with time, it soon becomes a more than acceptable alternative, and doesn’t detract from the gameplay.
A few modes of play are available – a daily test, practice, challenge and brain battle. The daily test and practice modes are self-explanatory – you can practice the puzzles in the latter, and put your skills to the test in the former. Challenge mode expands on this slightly, setting strict time limits or score targets to unlock awards. But where the game really shines is in its battle mode. Though lacking single-UMD WiFi play (a clear oversight), up to four players can battle it out in true Weakest Link-style to see who’s the intellectual head-chef, and whose brain is left washing the dishes. As long as you have enough people willing to play, this is undoubtedly Brain Bender’s big selling point and without question adds to the game’s longevity.
It’s all too easy to dismiss Buzz! Brain Bender as little more than just another Brain Training clone, but this would be doing a disservice. Although the reason for its existence is clear, it is nevertheless a polished piece of software offering a fair amount of entertainment. Some may find the host, Buzz (once again voiced by Jason Donovan in full-cheese mode!) a little grating, but this is a small blemish on an otherwise very accomplished package. For PSP owners looking to test their wits and join the legions of gamers (and non-gamers!) training their brains on the DS, Buzz! Brain Bender is as good an alternative as you will find, and proof that, sometimes, hopping on a bandwagon can be a valid and satisfying form of transport!
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