Brain exercises to get Smart As

GERARD CAMPBELL
Last updated 05:00 20/11/2012
Smart As

BRAIN EXPLOSION: How well you’re doing is displayed on an exploded diagram of a brain.

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REVIEW: Smart As is one of those brain-testing applications that sadly has made me feel less brainy than I think I am.

You see, it knows when you've missed a day or two of the daily training - and narrator John Cleese - yes, he of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame - isn't afraid to tell you so. After missing two days of the daily exercises, he made a remark along the lines of perhaps I needed to take things more seriously.

The core of Smart As is a series of daily challenges, usually made up of three or four exercises that have to be completed within a set time limit, designed to improve your brain capacity in observation (such as touching the vita's front and rear touch panels when prompted, as fast as you can or determining whether two objects have changed position), language (filling in the missing letter in a word or making a word from five random letters), logic (joining pins on a board together while not touching other pins on the board) and arithmetic (joining numbers together to make another number). It's very similar in concept to the Brain Training series on the Nintendo DS, where you do daily exercises to keep your brain nimble, but this is more funky.

After a couple of weeks of Smart As the exploded view of a brain that indicates what parts of my grey matter was being used the most was thus: Logic: 34 per cent; Arithmetic: 70 per cent; Language: 91 per cent; Observation: 22 per cent. I was shocked but I put my less that impressive cognitive performance down to a busy week and a lack of sleep. But by the end of the second week, though, things were looking up with much more pleasing figures.

The more you progress in Smart As, the more exercises are unlocked, and there is a free play section where you can practise on the exercises that are causing you the most trouble. It seems I need to practise more.

A lot of the activities require you to write on the touchscreen with a finger but I found that if you didn't write the number clearly enough, you'd always get the answer wrong and receive a time penalty. During one maths-based exercise I was penalised on a simple puzzle - something like 5-2 = ? - a couple of times because the programme kept thinking my hastily scribbled "3" was a "5". And considering that you're racing against the clock, the faster you scribble, the more likelihood the programme is going to have trouble recognising what you've written. Keep that in mind.

Things were much better in the language problems where you had to scribble the missing letter. I did pretty well at that. Another exercise has you having to pick out the missing word while racing against the clock.

After a few weeks of Smart As, my brain score is improving - which pleases me immensely - and it has that addictive nature about it that makes you want to come back day after day. It's also the sort of thing that you don't need to play for hours on end to see results.

It might be priced a little on the steep side but if you're the sort of person who likes to do brain gymnastics, then this is the thing for you.

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Smart As (PS Vita)
Price: $55 (retail), $46
(PS Store)

- The Press

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