Review: Smart As...

Okay, so I picked this up free thanks to PS+ but frankly this is one game Sony couldn't give away. However, it perfectly highlights the chasm Sony fell into, early in the Vita's life, when it tried to appeal to mobile gamers, but in the old console way. For a start, its a near 2GB downlod for a bunch of mini games. Yes, brain training games need slick presentation but they also need to be quick and fun, everything this isn't.

The soothing tones of John Cleese lure you in and the clean rendering graphics style is nice and all (if a little bit pyscho ward), but the four short games you get on day one are tedious exercises in touch screen writing or tapping, with barely a neuron needing to fire. And the delay in moving between them, I've seen shorter ice ages.

The first games are maths, spelling, linking lines and a reaction test. The touchscreen elements work fine and show the Vita (one of the game's aims I guess) off nicely. But, on the linking lines game, I couldn't delete a line, so failed the test in the process getting a poor score, just one tiny little fail ruined the whole day's score and my experience.

Sure I won't make that mistake again, but that and the plodding pace rally trashed the game. Come back the next day and you  might improve your score (or not) and more games (up to 15, some using the camera and other Vita features) become available, to liven up the variety. Outside the game, you can check world, regional and local scores, play in local challenges and so on, all logical features but again so slow to access.

With no proven link to brain training or improving your mental faculties, this is a very poor waste of time. Play it long enough and there are errors in translating letters and numbers, which also grate. Sure, its glossy, but look at the wacky speed of Frobisher Says or the directness of Welcome Park and you get a far better idea of where the developers should have headed.

On the plus side, there are some easy trophies to be won, and more with a little persistence. The free play and challenge mode add a little extra once you've finished the daily run, and the difficulty levels make it more of a challenge for the committed. If all the online modes worked in synch with the basic game (dropping out to Near is a real pain) then it would be a little better, adding more challenge and drive to get into the game, but its so anodyne, I find it hard to make the effort.

Developer: Sony XDev
Price: Free on PS+ in March (£6.99 otherwise on PSN)
Score: 3/10
Progress: Day two, uninstalled!
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