Backlog: American Mensa Academy

I’m going to start playing games I’ve had sitting around for a while and reviewing them. I need to get into the habit of writing more often.

American-Mensa-Academy

As you can probably deduce from the title, it is full of logic, math, and vocabulary questions.

Developer: Silverball Studios, Barnstorm Games
Publisher: Maximum Games, Square Enix
Platforms: PC (reviewed), Wii, 3DS, iOS, XBLA, (soon: PSN, Android)
Genre: Edutainment, puzzle

The game consists of three modes- Play, Coach, and Test. You can jump straight into a test that grades you on a bell curve (I got a 142 on my first test), but many of the questions are very specific and don’t offer much in the way of instruction.

mensa test 1

To learn the tips and tricks to each type of question, you have to go to Coach mode… but wait! First you have to unlock it through Play. I can’t tell if the categories are random or not, but you have to encounter the type of question in the “Play” mode before it is available in “Coach” mode. There are twenty levels of “Play” for each category (language, numbers, logic, memory, etc.), and you can earn up to three stars in each level. You can then earn bronze, silver and gold medals by getting perfect scores in three tiers of Coach mode.

If you’re looking for some mental exercise, you could certainly do worse, but the game becomes tedious and repetitive, even if the challenge keeps rising. The menus are unnecessarily drawn out with animation. In fact, I’d argue that the whole game could use a little less animation, at least outside of the actual games. You enter a foyer and see a short, balding, professor stereotype and a tall, attractive, cleavage-baring youngish woman in a lab coat behind the desk. The professor introduces each type of exercise while you play, but the woman follows you around in the foyer throughout the menus. Click on one thing, it zooms you to another area and she walks up. Click another, it zooms you deeper, and she follows again. You have to do this at least four times to get to each game. It gets very annoying.

The cardboard cutout graphics are amusing inside the games, but again, the graphics in the ‘base’ area leave much to be desired. They are rough, pixelated, and the round lines are edged. Considering the smooth graphics elsewhere, I wonder why the woman’s face is so blocky when I have to stare at her during half my time in the game. Also… why is she wearing a “lab coat” with a deep square neck to show her cleavage? (And the picture below is not at all the quality I see in the game.)

mensa chick

The music is surprisingly good inside the games. I find myself humming along to the classical tunes.

What would I change? I’d streamline the menus first. There’s no reason to draw them out. I’d dress Ms. Mensa a bit more appropriately. Other than that, it’s not bad.

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