My worry is the overall structure, and how it might affect the game long-term. Brain Training got this absolutely right, charting the progress of your training and allowing you to compare your efforts with others playing on the same DS. The result was plenty of competition on the score charts and many a race as to who could reach the ideal brain age first. Big Brain Academy did a fine job by following roughly the same path. With Brain Benders you get the challenge of unlocking every city and every level, but I’m not sure it’s so compulsive or so much fun. There’s less opportunity to compare scores and achievements with those of your family or friends, and while you can send individual games to another DS, there’s not really anything in the way of real multiplayer action. Brain Training has its Sudoku puzzles too – the sort of bonus extra that Brain Benders could do with – and arguably makes better use of the DS hardware (though those with a Northern English accent may be happy with the lack of voice recognition here).
With this in mind, Brain Benders is a nicely put together selection of puzzle games, but not the must-have game that Brain Training or its sequel have become. It’s worth considering if you’ve loved other brain games and you’re desperate for a new fix, but the simple fact is that you can get similar puzzle games in a browser window for nowt without much of a struggle. If you must have them in a more portable format, then Brain Benders just about justifies its price tag, but Doctor Kawashima comfortably remains our mind-wrangling Brainiac of choice.
A decent set of brain-teasers in a nice friendly format, but the puzzles aren’t all that original and the structure doesn’t leave a lot of room for long-term play. Nintendo’s original Brain games are still the best.