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Left Brain Right Brain 2 (DS) artwork

Left Brain Right Brain 2 (DS) review


"The developers still haven't figured out how to produce a quality assortment of skill-based games. Luck still plays a larger role than it should and sometimes threatens to turn everything upside-down. In one stage, for instance, you have to dig fossils from a field of clay. Since you can't see your buried targets ahead of time, you basically have to tap the screen like a madman and hope for the best. This is an action that most people can easily perform with either hand, so any end results feel hollow instead of informative. Other diversions with more consistency fare better, like one where you push beach balls into large holes at the corner of the playing field, but in the end the available selection is a mixed bag."



When I played Left Brain Right Brain for the Nintendo DS in late 2007, I was delighted by the opportunity to test and improve my ambidexterity just by playing a simple video game. Though the overall experience lacked polish and led me to believe that the developers hadn't completely wrapped their heads around their own compelling concept, the title did enough things right that I felt good drafting a generally favorable review.

That was then and this is now. One year after its predecessor came and went, Left Brain Right Brain 2 is ready to take your money and to go through the same motions all over again. This time around there are more mini-games and more polish, but is that enough to make this newest effort a step forward for the franchise? Not really.

If you're returning to the series after enjoying the first title, the first thing that you're likely to notice is the improved visual design. The first effort sometimes looked more like a sheet of paper with lines squiggled across it than it did a proper video game. For the sequel, featureless backgrounds are replaced by static images. There are more complex animations, as well. Some of the included mini-games actually look pretty great, like one that asks you to dodge fireballs rolling down a staircase and another that makes you roll a ball through a canyon by swiping at the screen with your stylus. The animated hand icon from the first game has returned, as well, which gives the whole project a feeling of continuity.

Cosmetics aren't the only change, either. The developers also went back to the drawing board when it came to the play mechanics within those mini-games. There are 20 diversions to experience now instead of 15. The packaging states that all of them are new and that's technically true. Just don't expect a radical shift in focus; a lot of what's here just feels like the same old stuff with new skins.

The original Left Brain Right Brain asked you to knock comets away as they approached the earth's atmosphere. Here, you'll tap crows before they can pop balloons with their beaks. Another holdover--at least in spirit--is a stage that will have you guide a puppy through a maze without bumping into obstacles. The production values may be superior this time around, but it still feels too much like the dot-in-a-maze diversion from the first title. Similar issues affect other selections, too.

Another important point is that the developers still haven't figured out how to produce a quality assortment of skill-based games. Luck still plays a larger role than it should and sometimes threatens to turn everything upside-down. In one stage, for instance, you have to dig fossils from a field of clay. Since you can't see your buried targets ahead of time, you basically have to tap the screen like a madman and hope for the best. This is an action that most people can easily perform with either hand, so any end results feel hollow instead of informative. Other diversions with more consistency fare better, like one where you push beach balls into large holes at the corner of the playing field, but in the end the available selection is a mixed bag.

With all of that said, Left Brain Right Brain 2 is an effective sequel that's every bit as easy to recommend as its predecessor. It would have been nice if the developers did more to build on their concept rather than regurgitating everything with a prettier face and the same core issues, but the overall product is a solid experience that should appeal to the growing sea of casual gamers. Unless you're in the mood for a pathetic pun, then, there's really nothing left--or right--to say. How very ambidextrous of me!

Rating: 7/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (January 27, 2009)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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bloomer posted February 01, 2009:

'featureless backgrounds are replaced by static images.'

Now that's a ringing endorsement if ever I read one!

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