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Hot Brain: Fire up Your Mind

Platform(s): PSP
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Midway


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PSP Review - 'Hot Brain: Fire up Your Mind'

by Tim McCullough on July 31, 2007 @ 12:54 a.m. PDT

Fire up your mind with Hot Brain, a game that engages the mind through a series of puzzles and challenges designed to raise the activity and temperature of your brain. Hot Brain presents challenging and fun mental activities that help ignite your mind in areas like logic, memory, math, language and concentration.

Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Release Date: June 18, 2007

Things have certainly changed since I was teenager. In my high school days, most tests were received with a frown, and even if a test were in your best subject, you'd still be on the receiving end of a blunt object if you ever called it "entertainment."

Hot Brain is based on the premise that you can — and will — enhance your brain power by solving puzzles. As you use selectively different portions of your brain to solve these puzzles, your brain will become much more active and generate extra heat, thus the inspiration for its moniker. Hot Brain presents puzzles in five different categories: concentration, language, logic, math and memory. The game utilizes a light-hearted presentation with plenty of examples and tutorials to assist you in getting started quickly. Besides the normal testing, you can practice the puzzles and even play with two to four people via ad-hoc Wi-Fi wireless mode.

While it won't win any prizes for artistic greatness, the graphics presentation of Hot Brain is satisfactory enough to not distract you from the main purpose of the game. The menu system uses a 3D character by the name of Dr. Ed Warmer (voiced by comedian Fred Willard) to assist with tutorials, transitions, and testing results. The sound and perky background music are unobtrusive; I was neither annoyed nor distracted while playing.

It all seems scientifically plausible — Hot Brain targets specific regions of the brain by offering puzzles related to concentration, language, logic, math and memory, so if you have concentrated enough on a specific question in any of these categories and answered it correctly, you must have stimulated (heated up) that particular portion of the brain. After you've created your profile, you'll be able to take a practice test, take a normal test, or join some friends in some competitive or cooperative gameplay.

So how does this all become entertainment? Well, that would have to be how it's all presented in a light-heart fashion, using three different game types for each of the five categories, or brain regions. After selecting a category, you'll usually receive a bit of brain-related trivia as an added bonus.

One of the puzzles in the Concentration game type is Combine, and in it, you must examine a picture and determine which missing shape needs to be added to create the initial shape in the picture. I found this to be the most challenging task in the Concentration category. Shape-Up involves identifying shapes that are created when two other shapes are combined. Untangle is a pretty straightforward puzzle where you must match the starting point of a ball of yarn to its ending point on the other side of the screen.

In the Language category, the puzzles are Alphabet, Picto-Rhymes, and Spelling Bee. In Alphabet, you'll basically be alphabetizing four words, which becomes surprisingly challenging when you're being pressured by a timer. In Picto-Rhymes, you must select the word that best rhymes with a picture, and Spelling Bee is a timed puzzle in which you must select the misspelled word from a list of four words.

The Logic grouping includes some interesting puzzles. In Back Seat Driver, you must select the appropriate button based on the expected destination of a taxi after following a sequence of direction arrows. If this description seems confusing, give the puzzle a try! Sequencer is a visual puzzle where you select the next logical puzzle piece in a sequence, similar to what you'll find on most IQ tests. Shape Logic is a visual addition/subtraction brainteaser where you need to determine the correct result after you either combine or subtract two different shapes.

One of the puzzles in the Math category is Cruise Ship, where you must keep track of the number of passengers who board or leave a ship. In Equation Sensation, you'll need to select the proper equation sign for the presented math problem. High and Low tasks you with putting a series of four numbers in order, from low to high or from high to low.

The final game type, Memory, features the puzzles Musical Memory, Pinball Wizard and Scene of The Crime. Musical Memory is a fun game where you must remember different sounds (not just musical notes) and repeat them in the proper sequence, while in Pinball Wizard, you need to count the number of times a pinball hits one of four bumpers. Scene of The Crime is a simple memorization game where you're provided with a picture of an object, and then you must point out that same object when mixed with three additional objects.

Keep in mind that in practice mode, you can select a level of difficulty before playing, but any levels beyond "easy" will need to be unlocked by successfully mastering the first level. In the regular test mode, all questions are randomly selected.

Hot Brain features two multiplayer modes using the PSP's ad-hoc wireless. The first, "Brain Race," allows you to compete with up to three additional players in a competitive race to reach the "On Fire" brain temperature level. The second mode, "Think Tank" allows two to four players to work together to raise their collective brain temperature to the "On Fire" level. Both games are reasonably fun to play in a small group, but I found that both modes tend to quickly get boring for most participants.

Hot Brain is a nice departure from the usual reflex games that you'd most likely be playing on your PSP. Although the puzzle tests are timed, the game's presentation is light-hearted and not intimidating to play. Unfortunately, there are no upgrade possibilities for the puzzles in the game, so replay value is limited. If the theories promoted by Hot Brain are correct, it has some value just as a self-improvement title alone. If you enjoy challenging yourself with puzzles, you'll want to consider adding Hot Brain to your PSP library.

Score: 7.5/10

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