Nintendo sure loves minigames. WarioWare: Get it Together! and the whole of the WarioWare series are a great example of that lovem as Nintendo has built a whole brand for Mario's nemesis purely off of collections of quirky and gripping minigames. A similar case could be made for Mario Party, Nintendo's cheerful party game series filled with frequent minigames that give advantages to each game's winner. Even so, Brain Age and the upcoming Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain are unique among Nintendo's various minigame franchises. If anybody ever needed evidence that Nintendo likes dabbling in educational products, they needn't look any further than Brain Age.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain seems to be a new incarnation of the Brain Age franchise. Brain Age historically delivered fast-paced minigames based on math, memory, and so on, designed to stimulate the brain and overseen by Japanese neuroscientist Dr. Ryuta Kawashima. Brain Age is still an active franchise, but it hasn't gotten many installations in recent years. Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain pretty clearly seems designed to stimulate new interest in brain-teasing puzzle games, though, and the Switch is a perfect platform to it. Considering the Switch's accessibility and overwhelming sales, now is a great time for Nintendo to look at Brain Age more closely and experiment with it again.
Why a Brain Age Revival Makes Sense
A big part of the reason that now is a great time for a new era of Brain Age games is simply because there's so many potential customers. The Switch has sold more than 90 million units, which is an overwhelming number that manages to compete even with Nintendo's titanically successful Wii. Brain Age can reach more players than ever, so Big Brain Academy's timing makes sense. The good thing about Brain Age and Big Brain Academy is that they hold widespread appeal. They're not niche genre games; they're anthologies of puzzles that anyone of any age can get into. The Switch's wide user base ranging from casual games to Nintendo die-hards could all be willing to try Big Brain Academy.
It just so happens that the Switch is a great console for Big Brain Academy thanks to its physical design. The Switch is excellent at multiplayer thanks to its touch screen and Joy-Cons. The Big Brain Academy trailer shows the game effortlessly transitioning from singleplayer to 2-player to 4-player. That kind of flexibility is perfect for the Switch, which was designed to be carried around and enjoyed with friends and family at a moment's notice. That ease of use means Big Brain Academy and any future Brain Age-esque games are perfect both as easy to pick up singleplayer titles or Mario Party-style multiplayer titles.
A New Age of Brain Age
There's one more thing that makes Brain Age worth revisiting on Switch. In 2019, Nintendo did release a Brain Age game for the Switch — Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training for Nintendo Switch — but it got mixed reviews and never released in North America, missing out on a crucial market. Big Brain Academy suggests Nintendo is doubling down on its brain training games with a ton of determination to make the Brain Age brand succeed. It's clearly not intimidated by the last Brain Age game's reception, which inspires optimism for the franchise's future.
It seems like educational tools and health games will never stop being a part of Nintendo's brand, even if they're only a small part of Nintendo's total output. For instance, earlier in 2021, Nintendo announced Game Builder Garage, a highly creative game that's actually about making games. Game Builder Garage helps players grasp core concepts in game development and gives them the tools to make some of their own games. This aspect of Nintendo is one reason that it's so unique; its game development interests are diverse to an incredible degree. Big Brain Academy is only Nintendo's latest step in a long journey of making games that are off the beaten path.
Big Brain Academy: Brain vs Brain releases on December 3, 2021 for Nintendo Switch.