Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Video game number five: Encleverment Experiment

Game review number five in my 365 Games in 365 Days project is "The Encleverment Experiment".

This game is a strange little collection of quizzes and puzzles set in a game show enviornment. Like Brain Age, they encourage you to play every day and rate your scores on a progressive graph. Unlike Brain Age, the games themselves seem to drag on and they aren't nearly as fun.

The game has all the right ingredients to be a fun daily puzzle challenge, except the magic ingredients called "replayability" and "fun". I started up the game, completed a test (something similar to Brain Age for the DS), then proceeded to the Game Show mode. I found myself playing the exact same mini games, only now there was a computer opponent who sometimes answered faster than I did.

The sliding scale of difficulty on the games is ridiculous. One of the mini games involves watching a UFO drive around the screen, eventually stopping on a color coded section where you are encouraged to press the corresponding colored button on your controller. This game is impossible to lose unless you play with your eyes closed. In contrast to that, there is this timed math game that asks you to solve problems ranging from the expected 5 * 4 to the ridiculous 26 * 13 . Unless you're the Rain Man, double digit multiplication is probably not something you can do instantly in your head. When presented with a problem like that, I found myself spending 10 seconds coming up with the solution in my head and having my score penalized as a result. The only way to "win" this game is either to become a Savant, or cheat by using the calculator application on my PC. I chose the latter to improve my times. I can't imagine playing this particular mini-game would be infuriating.

I made my way through a game show against the computer opponent...and overall, I suppose I had a reasonable amount of fun. The last round of the game show is actually pretty cool, the first person to answer steals currency from their opponent. I could imagine this being a lot of fun online. The currency you win in the game show is called "Noodles" and can be used to unlock little mascots like a koala bear or a panda. These little guys are supposed to be there to cheer you on during the game, although I wasn't particularly fond of the panda I unlocked. Most times, I forgot he was there. Perhaps I would have enjoyed a more interesting mascot, only I didn't have the Noodles to unlock one. The only way you can do that is to play this game over and over again...which is not something I wanted to do.

There are several achievements and unlockables in this game that can only be completed in online multiplayer. I tried to join a multiplayer match and after finding none being hosted, I chose to host one myself. I left my lobby open for several minutes...but never encountered anyone else playing this game on Live. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. There's an achievement you can get for simply taking a test 5 days in a row, but after two days, I found that I couldn't be bothered to boot this one up again, even for the free gamerscore.

Overall score: 3 out of 10

Overall rating: Meh.

Overall fun factor: Equivalent to playing the word search in the back of a magazine while you wait for your dental cleaning appointment. It's better than sitting there doing nothing, but that's about it.

Here are the achievements I was able to earn:


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