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Review: Smart As

Smart As

Rating:
Star4
Star
Star
Star
Star

Developer: XDev Studios Europe
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS Vita
Genre: Educational/Puzzle
Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Review: Smart As
Review: Smart As
self screenshots of game
Review: Smart As
Sony

How smart are you? It's time to find out! Smart As is the PS Vita exclusive developed by XDev Europe that will get you thinking on your toes as it tests your brain power on your mission to outsmart the world.

Presentation
Smart As has quite a variety of games that are geared to exercise different parts of your brain. The games are categorized under four sections: Logic, Language, Arithmetic, and Observation. You are able to see just how you rank in each of these in the Stats section and see what you need work on. I knew what my weakest section was, prior to playing. But, when it told me that my Language and Arithmetic were higher than the other two, and that my Logic was the lowest, I knew it was dead on. The Stats section will let you compare your scores with your friends by downloading their progress chart and placing it against yours, along with a display of their average score.

Each day you can do your Daily Training and you are greeting with one game from each category. Everyday you partake in your Daily Training, your scores are logged. It is important to make sure that you are in a room without distractions because I found that I could not take my daily training test again in the same day to bump up my score, when I was tending to my kids, while testing. So, it makes it fair by only allowing your scores to be recorded once a day.

Your individual profile is created, as you go. The game will randomly ask questions, such as, "How do you get your news?" and "What did you prefer at school: Science or Art". The answers to these questions then become part of your profile. Smart As will then let you know if you are smarter than the average person in those particular categories.

The Free Play section lets the player dive in to each category and brush up with some extra practice in each. Plus, it will also introduce you to new games that can be implemented into the Daily Training. Getting yourself exposed to the games in this section will have you ready to ace them once they are included as part of your Daily Training. Since Logic was the area I needed the improvement on, I would jump right into the Free Play and there is five games in each section. This allowed me to get the hang of the games, such as the Chain Reaction and Path Finder, to improve on my skills and it really helped me get a better score in my Daily Training.

Graphics

I absolutely love the sleek look and the simplistic graphics of Smart As. It takes on a professional feel with very minimal colors to keep from having too much going on and draws you in to what needs to be the focal point, or what needs to grab the attention of the player.

The graphs of the progress chart in the Stats section, also lends to that polished look. Each category has its own color attached to it throughout the game. The Observation games are highlighted in yellow, the Language are green, the Logic are blue, and the Arithmetic are red. This associates each when you are checking your progress in your Daily Training and they match the picture of the brain that pulls apart in the different sections to give your percentage in each. You will not forget which category you need help in the most.

There are two little characters that come up throughout the game. They look as though they jumped off of a board game and into Smart As, with one being red and one being blue. They will come out with speech bubbles in between play to offer some insightful tidbits which will include help with training tips, facts about the brain, and where you are at, compared to other players or others in your age group, and whatnot.

I liked how the intro cinematic changes up when you log in to play. You are sometimes greeted with a new one and it seems to cycle through a few different openings. They will show the two little Smart As characters playing the puzzle games that are offered by the game, in a comical way.

Music/Sound
The music in the game is more soothing to allow for complete concentration while training. It provides just enough intensity without being a disturbance. It is the kind of music that you expect to hear during a game show on television.

The narrator's voice is played by John Cleese who is an English actor, comedian, writer, and film producer. He brings some spice into the game with his sophisticated sense of humor. He greets you as you come back into the game and several times throughout the game. Cleese will commend you when you are doing well and intends to humorously kicks you when you're low. He will also offer you an optimistic pat-on-the-back when you didn't do so well. An example of this is when he says, "On a positive note, there is plenty of room for improvement."

The countdown before the mission starts resembles the 3-2-1 sounds you would hear in a racing game, since you obtain a high score by getting the right answer. However, since time is key, it is considered a race for time.

There is a particular game in the Language section that didn't always work as well as I wanted it too called Spell It. There is a woman with an English accent that says a word and you spell it out by using your finger to write the letters on the front touch screen. While I've never had a problem understanding an English accent, the words were sometimes unclear or I heard one thing and it turned being another word. In one instance, the voice seemed to say, "piss" You can click on the speaker and have the word repeated as needed and after a few times of pressing it, since I knew there was no way that was really the word, I realized she was saying "pierce". While it didn't happen too often, it would sneak up on you and snag your 3-star rating on that particular game by missing the word or taking too much time trying to understand it.

If you get the answer correct, it will be accompanied with a pleasant tone. If you get it wrong, there will be a sound that will indicate that as well. Thankfully, it is not a loud frustrating tone that will make you want to throw your PS Vita across the room, but rather a gentle tone to inform you that the answer provided was incorrect.

Gameplay
Smart As truly utilizes the PS Vita's functions. There are several minigames that offer a variety of ways to play. Some games require the simple swipe or tap of the front touch screen, such as the "Word Wheel" and the "Odd Word Out". The Word Wheel will show several letters on a wheel that you must make a word out of by swiping your finger on the screen and tapping the letter in the correct order to make the word. It gets a little challenging because, while you can tap the letters in front of you to put them back on the wheel, you are docked 5 seconds each time you send a letter back. Again, since time is key, when I say that you are docked 5 seconds, these 5 seconds will be added to the overall time it took for you to complete the game. The Odd Word Out will give you a list of words and you must tap the one that is not synonymous with the others. Making a mistake will also result in a time penalty.

The games are very interesting. There is the "Live Jigsaw" that will take a picture of what is in front of you. However, the picture is not a still image and you can use the camera to your advantage by moving it around to various objects that will work easier in the puzzle, if you are having difficulty.

"Calculations Plus" allows you to write in the sum, difference, product, and quotient on a board by using the touch screen. There is also one where you write in the missing letter of a word called "Lost Letter". There are times where you are trying to rush and you write an "A" and it mistakes it for an "X", or same goes for the numbers. This can work flawlessly if you take a little bit of time to ensure your letters and numbers are completely legible. However, time is crucial, since that is how the scoring of the games is determined. I noticed that if you accidentally write the wrong letter or number on these that you can scribble over it and it will give you a fresh canvas to try again, rather than getting the time penalty if you miss it entirely.

There are a couple of the mini games that utilize the PS Vita's AR cards. I enjoy the games but would rather play them without the AR functionality. I wished the games gave the player the option to use them or not. Unfortunately, if you play these games you have to use it.

One of the games that I find most challenging is the "Turbo Tap" under the Observation section. This game incorporates the use of both the front and back touch screens and will have panels that pop up saying either "Front" or "Rear". You will then have to touch the screen the panel indicates. This can get very difficult because the panels can come up in the foreground or background of the screen. So, when you see the panel in the background that reads "Front", it completely messes with your head. The fact that it is so challenging for me, keeps me glued to the game. As the difficulty progresses, the panels will read "Front Right", "Back Right", "Front Left", and "Back Left", making the game extremely tricky for your brain. "Rapid Recall" is another game in this section that is a good challenge. It will show you some objects and you must remember them once they are shown to you all together at the end, among many other items.

"Path Finder" under the Logic section is another one of my favorites. The player is shown some arrows at the bottom of the screen. These arrows indicate where the yellow player will move, following the arrows, as you try to get it to its target destination. The yellow player is location on a platform of pillars and each arrow is one leap to one pillar, once the play button is pressed. This is where it gets tricky. You can tap on blue pillars to raise and lower them. So if the arrows show left, down, down, you must make sure that the player gets to the destination by lifting and lowering pillars to either block or unblock the path in the directions the arrows are pointing to ensure the player gets there in those amount of moves.

City Challenges will be offered randomly in the Street Smart section of the Smart As World and will offer you a game from each category, much like the Daily Training. However, the difficulty will be randomized, whether you beat them in the Free Play section in that difficulty level or not. Your score is then logged and ranked against others who have completed the challenge in your city. The really neat thing about it is that you can take a picture to have it placed on the map, once it is completed. I found it odd that it then activates the regular camera and wished that it gave you the option to use the front camera, as well.

The games will get harder as you progress through them in the Free Play section. You have the opportunity to play each mini game in each section under four various difficulties. Once one difficulty is beat, the next one is then unlocked. Not only does the difficulty progress in Free Play, but when Near challenges are sent, or if you are playing City Challenges under the Smart As World, you will get a variety of difficulties thrown at you to change up the pace and keep you on your toes.

All in all, your mission is to obtain the highest score you can get and train your brain at the same time. The best way to do this is by nourishing the brain with the practice that it needs so that you can show your success in the Smart As World.

Lasting appeal
The leaderboards will have the player hooked on making sure that they remain on top. The Smart As World has lots to offer the player, from their City and Near Challenges, Game Leaderboards, and you can also check to see who is the smartest country, continent in the world and the smartest country in North America and city in the United States. Then, you can check where you rank in each of these. All of the answers that you have been providing to the random questions are stored in your profile, which allows you to check your answers against which group is smartest.

Smart As takes advantage of the Near function of the PS Vita. Near challenges can also be set for people in your area, once you attain a 3 Star rating in Free Play. So you can pick which game to offer up as your Near challenge.

The Daily Training will keep you coming in for more! The City Challenges in the Street Smart section of the Smart As World are updated for you to keep coming in and trying to stay on top in your city, as well. One piece of advise that I can offer is that anyone can hop in and do their Daily Training, Near Challenges, and City Challenges. However, to get the best score possible, it would be best to jump into some of the games in the Free Play section to get yourself warmed up first. I found that worked well for me.

Conclusion
Smart As is definitely a game that will bring out your competitive side, while exercising your brain. The Brain Power percentage changes as you perform your Daily Training and will display in big yellow numbers as soon as you touch the screen to start the game. You will want to be greeted with a high number each time you come in and play. This lead me to want to practice daily.

I like to know that I am playing against fair people in the Leaderboard. There is no room for cheating in the game because if you attempt to suspend the game and reenter, you will be booted back to the Free Play menu to start it all over again. I'm sure you can look up some answers on the laptop while you play. However, that would only hurt your score anyway. It is good to know that the game took this all into consideration to maintain a fair balance in the gameplay.

Smart As is a definite must buy for those looking for the perfect pick-up-and-go game. While there is lots to do in Smart As, it is still a game that can also be played in bite-sized sittings. The game comes with a reasonable price tag of $29.99. You can choose to continue to grind away on the various difficulty modes in each section, or you can just hop in to complete your challenges. Either way, the game will keep you glued and it is insanely addicting to take on your Daily Training and challenges to score big and make your mark in the Smart As World.

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