For those of you that are aware of and experienced Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training, you might think Smart As is Sony’s attempt at introducing a similar title to the Vita. Whilst Smart As may borrow some ideas from the Brain Training series vaguely, it’s a totally different ball game once you sit down and actually play it.
Smart As is narrated by none other than the comedy genius that is John Cleese. Just like the LittleBigPlanet series that features the fantastic Steven Fry, John Cleese presence is (like Mr Fry) perfectly suited to the game, adding a nice touch of comedic touch to proceedings.
At it’s core, Smart As is a brain stimulation game that features 20 interactive puzzles across four different categories, logic, arithmetic, language and observation. As well as featuring those four categories for you to get your brain sizzled with, Smart As also features a social network element, allowing you to post your scores or challenge your friends across Facebook or your followers on Twitter. Each day, you are put through your paces with a dedicated Daily Training game by tapping a virtual calendar that is featured inside the main menu. Once you have selected the calendar to start your daily test, you are then presented with the four aforementioned categories and a set of puzzles/games for you to kick off your daily routine. Once you have completed your daily training game, Smart As gives you a final daily percentage score out of 100% for logic, arithmetic, language and observation, in addition to an overall rating out of 100% too.
The main ‘daily routine’ can only be played once a day due to the title recording your score once, but for those that feel like practicing before their next challenge the following day, you have the ability to do this with the ‘Free Play’ section. This is an area incorporated into Smart As that lets you play all the mini games that you have unlocked (by completing a category in the main daily routine mode) whenever you want and as many times as you want. Each category in Free Play (Observation, Language, Logic and Arithmetic) has five mini-games for each section on offer, with the higher difficulties unlocked when receiving the maximum three stars on the previous one. Penalties and how fast or slow you complete each game, determines how well you are rated out of three stars at the end of each task.
Whilst Smart As may borrow some ideas from the Brain Training series vaguely, it’s a totally different ball game once you sit down and actually play it.
Also found within the main menu screen is a charts and stats section which displays all of your recorded scores data . giving you the opportunity to compare scores with your friends and others player around the world. Another section featured in the game is something called ‘Smart As World’, a mode which gives you the chance to play others online using the PlayStation Vita’s ‘Near’ capability and also see who is the brainiest ‘Smart As’ player in your country, or even the world.
The games that feature in Smart As, sound like they will be varied and original once the full game is released but due to the preview code being quite limited in terms of whats on offer to us, its hard to say at this present time. Some of the brain testing games that are thrown at you are simple enough with a maths quotation game for example, that just involves you having to work out a quotation like say 5 x 4 or a game called ‘Less Equals More’ that asks you if the number on the left hand side column is less, equal or more than the number on the right. Pretty straightforward enough but when you unlock the higher difficulty levels and the pressure and the numbers are more varied and difficult, the task in hand become more challenging.
Turbo Tap is simple yet so highly addictive. I seemed to always want to give it ‘one more try’ to improve my overall score and rating.
There are some great little games within Smart As though including one called, Turbo Tap which I came across while taking part in my daily routine. Turbo Tap is a mini game which involves you tapping the PlayStation Vita’s front touchscreen or the back pad when prompted. The quicker you complete the task and with as little mistakes as possible, the better your final score will be. Mistakes add time penalties to you overall score so you have to, not only be quick but be careful not to make mistakes as it all adds to your final overall rating. Turbo Tap is simple yet so highly addictive as I seemed to always want to give it ‘one more try’ to improve my overall score and rating.
Another great little mini game is something called ‘Chain Reaction’, which involves you drawing lines on the touchscreen to connect all points of the same colour as quickly ass humanly possible. Red to red, green to green and yellow to yellow sounds easy, right? But no lines can cross each other and have to be connected in the correct colour combination. This may sound simple enough in text, but its harder than you think when not only are you being timed, but a strategic element is also attached too.
Control-wise, Smart As uses the front touchscreen and the back pad for everything. There isn’t nothing that groundbreaking here with regard to how the touchscreen has been implemented but there is no need for there to be. It’s a simple concept that works with the PlayStation Vita’s touch controls and for the most part, it works fine. I say for the most part as there were a few issues I experienced when playing an arithmetic mini game in which you have to work out a sum and then draw the final answer on a virtual chalkboard as for some reason, a few times, the game didn’t recognise the text that I entered that was drawn and I received a penalty for a wrong answer even though what I wrote down, was clear and easy to see. It’s a slight niggle and benefit of the doubt for now due to this being an unfinished version but fingers crossed this issue will be rectified for the full release.
There is always the opportunity of future DLC for the game later on which will always keep the game fresh and original.
One slight concern that I have with the games that are included in Smart As is that hopefully there is enough variety to keep gamers occupied when the full title is released. From my experience with Smart As, it does offer variety in some ways but at the same time, some of the mini games do come across as quite similar in some aspects as well and hopefully, this won’t be the case once the full spectrum of modes and features that are included in the final version, are revealed. There is always the opportunity of future DLC for the game later on which will always keep the game fresh and original.
Smart As is an addictive game that is fun and also so different from anything I have played so far on the PlayStation Vita. It has its issues and it might not appeal to the masses, but it has a certain charm going for it and with its casual style, this could be one to watch out for over the coming months.