The saying ‘These things are sent to test us’ has never been more appropriate for this preview.
Smart As… is not a brain training gaming (it tells you this in the intro) but it does borrow many ideas from previous games of this ilk. You still get a score on how ‘clever’ you are and you can try and improve on this day by day but the challenge comes from comparing your score against your friends, your street, your country or the entire world.
Remember those quiz shows that Anne Robinson and Phillip Schofield used to host on prime TV on Saturday nights when they pitted hairdressers against cabbies, and everyone else could play via the red button? It’s a bit like that.
As you can only run the main scoring quiz once per day and I received the preview code on Wednesday that left me with just three attempts before today’s embargo was lifted.
My first attempt occurred at the TheSixthAxis Expo house where I was rather distracted and occasionally had to pause the game. After the second unpause I noticed the message on screen telling me that if I pressed the PS button on the Vita to freeze the game my score would be automatically set to 10% for the game in progress and I would move on to the next mini game.
As I had only managed to play two mini games on the first day I got up early on Thursday and played again, switching the Vita on whilst on the bus to work. ‘You have already registed a score today!’ the game informs me. I haven’t, that’s impossible I have a Wi-fi Vita and I’m on a bus, there is no way for the game to communicate with the servers.
Obviously this was a bug in the preview code, perhaps because I was not online, so today I woke up at 6am so I could get a decent game of Smart As… completed and register my score and… ‘You have already registed a score today!’ the game informs me.
‘Well at least I’ve got some lovely screenshots,’ I thought and hooked up my Vita to my PC. However, Content Manager needed an update so I left it running whilst I had breakfast, came back and… ‘The USB Device is not recognised’.
Double arse. You can see this isn’t quite working out.
Broken preview code and borked content manager update? Excellent.
Thankfully you can play some of the Smart As… mini games in ‘free play’ mode so I could try eight of the challenges and the majority of them were enjoyable. The tests are split into four groups: Observation, Language, Logic and Arithmetic, and each game has a level of difficulty.
Of the few games I could try ‘Less Equals More’ was the most difficult. You are given two numbers and have to chose if the number on the left is less, equal or more than the number on the right. The game starts with easy problems – for example “is 9 less, equal to or more than 5” – but harder levels move on to using fractions and percentages and soon you will be racking your brains to work out if five ninths is less, equal to or more than 52%.
My favourite mini-game is called ‘Chain Reaction’ in which you are shown a number of coloured pegs on a board and you must use the touch screen to draw lines between the pegs and connect them up. However you must use one continuous line and you cannot cross the path of any lines you have already drawn.
From the little I have been able to play I can tell you Smart As… is a slick and cheerful game and seems to be lots of fun. The graphics are polished but rather clinical, but how can you complain when Smart As… has a joker to play? Quite literally, as John Cleese is the narrator for the game.
The reason for his inclusion is obvious: Stephen Fry did such a fabulous job on LittleBigPlanet, let’s get in another stalwart of British comedy and let him narrate the game and say puntastic lines such as ‘What a wonderful feat… and nice hands too.’
Except it doesn’t quite work, Cleese sometimes sounds bored, other times bewildered and his delivery of the puns never seems to quite hit the mark. Thankfully you can mute his voice in the options.
If Sony can keep the price of the game low then Smart As… could turn out be an excellent distraction. I particularly like the idea of being able to see who is the ‘clever’ person amongst your friends or the entire world.
By the way, in case you haven’t spotted it, Smart As… geddit? Say it out loud in an American accent.