Not so long ago, games shop shelves were filled with brain training software, or as we like to call them, ‘games that prove you’re thick’. We must be real gluttons for abuse because we couldn’t stop playing them, even when a virtual bald-headed boffin in a lab coat mocked our pathetic attempts at algebra for the thousandth time. If you love a bit of mental torture, or you simply want to flex those cerebral muscles, then you’ll be overjoyed to hear that ‘Mensa Academy’ for the iPad/iPhone provides the same brain-bashing experience, with not quite as much mockery.
Mensa Academy is split into three main sections, with the first providing access to five sets of mini-tests (logic, numeracy, logic, memory, visual). Each set has twenty tests, which grow progressively harder – at first they’re gentle and sweet, and by the end you’ll feel like a cricket bat has worked wonders on the back of your skull. Each test contains a variety of challenges: for instance, the logic section throws all manner of puzzles at you, from guessing the missing item in a sequence to figuring out what colour you get from combining others.
The second section is direct access to each individual brainteaser, to train you up if you feel you need practice. You’re awarded a bronze, silver and gold medal for progressing through each challenge, but you’ll need to get a perfect score to win each medal, so the pressure is on.
Our favourite section is the final test, which combines all of the brainteasers into a single exam-style paper. You need to answer 30 questions in 15 minutes, which proves more challenging than it sounds with the pressure of the clock constantly counting down. At the end you’re given your IQ, which will probably depress you enough to practice harder and take the test again, to see if you can out-smart yourself.
With its cartoony graphics and funky soundtrack (which remixes classic tunes such as Jungle Boogie in a manner that should just about avoid nasty lawsuits), Mensa Academy has plenty of appeal for kids as well as adults. The great learning curve and excellent range of modes make it easy to pick up and surprisingly addictive.