One of the last things we ever expected to see come from RPG maven Square Enix was a brain-teasing/ training game, yet here we are with the release of Mensa Academy on iOS. And in case you were expecting to have to calculate the trajectory of a dragon’s flame divided by the strength of your Materia to save the world, it’s nothing at all like that– the Square Enix connection pretty much begins and ends with their logo and the release of a quality (though not perfect) product.
Mensa Academy provides you with five different ‘Play’ categories in which to hone your skills: Language, Numeracy, Logic, Visual, and Memory. By their powers combined, you are Captain Mensa! Or not. However, completing each of these will help you towards a greater goal in another of the game’s modes, Test. There, you are given 30 questions to answer in the course of 15 minutes, and it can certainly be tricky.
Plus, if you need help in understanding how each type of game works, there is the handy Coach mode. This mode allows you to aim for different ‘medal’ levels of skill (Bronze, Silver, Gold), and provides you with additional help that the Play mode does not.
Nonetheless, the first three categories each feature seven different types of games to play, while the remaining two have three each. In Play mode, you’ll be faced with a medley of these different games, usually prefaced by the kindly professor character letting you know what is being introduced into the mix. Just as an example of some of the mini-games available, Language contains Alphabet Action (selecting the words shown in alphabetical order), Opposites (selecting the two words that are antonyms), and Missing Letters (select the pair of letters, which aren’t always in order, to fill the blanks in the word shown).
Each game is dressed up in its own fancy theme or setting. For instance, Alphabet Action is set against a rustic prairie backdrop, while Opposites has a sort of retro comic book-style alien planet setting. These don’t affect the experience in any significant way, but provide a bit of dressing which helps add spice and flavor to the proceedings, especially when they shuffle in and out during Play sessions.
There is only one serious drawback in this game, and unfortunately, that’s all it can take to sour one’s experience. The touch detection isn’t as good as it could be, only registering when you touch certain undefined portions of the buttons to select your answer. When you’re being timed and scored, this can of course be a bit of a setback, especially if you’re going for a serious high score run.
Additionally, some portions don’t seem to register when a button has been touched, leaving you to decide whether to move to the next portion in sequence or to try touching it again. Either way, you can wind up in error and lose out on that part of the game.
But that can be a relatively small aside, depending on how serious you are about the game. Otherwise, Mensa Academy provides a fun brain training experience that most anyone with a working brain and some semblance of education should be able to enjoy.