Mini-review: Resco Brain Games beta

I’ve been putting my studies in first priority for the past months, which is the reason for the lack of substantial content on my blog. I’ve turned down several review oppertunities, but today Resco e-mailed me just when I decided to give myself a free afternoon, so I decided to take this chance to do some writing. Please note that this article should in no way be related with the Resco Keyboard Pro skinning contest in which I’m participating. I don’t get extra votes for writing this, or something like that. ;-)

Resco’s e-mail was about a beta version of their Resco Brain Games, which is an older game, but in a new package and with a new name. Resco has taken the games from Resco Brain Gain, designed a touch-friendly application, and placed the games inside that new framework.

Read on to find out more and view the screenshots! (Of course, you can click on the images to view them in full size)

When you open Resco Brain Games, you will see a list of the 36 included games. They come in three colors, representing the categories that were in the original Resco Brain Gain as well: calculation, memory and analysis), and are layed out in the familiar iPhone style. Easy to select, and you swipe your finger over the screen to scroll up and down the page. At the top is the X button to close the game, and at the bottom you can see the About screen and navigate to the Statistics.

 

After selecting one of the games, you will see another selection screen. There are two things you can select here: (1) you can change the game by moving the slider at the bottom to the left or right, or (2) you can select the difficulty level of the game you’ve chosen. The amount of difficulty levels can change for every game, and you need to complete one difficulty level to access the next. The amount of stars you get depends on the time you take to complete a level, and on the amount of correctly answered questions. So, answering all questions wrong and taking a long time to do this, won’t give you any stars and won’t unlock the next level.

As you can see, there are other items of interest as well. At the top right there is a Back button, next to the name and description of the game. There are also three buttons at the right of the screen, relating to your progress in that particular game. The first one shows a lock, and represents a trophy that is unlocked when all levels of that game have been unlocked. The next icon is awarded when you’ve progressed even more: not only do you need to have all difficulty levels unlocked, but you also need to score at least 3 stars for each of them. Finally, completing all difficulty levels with 5 stars gives you the ultimate “All complete” award.

 

Then we get to the games. You are free to figure all of them out when the update is released, or you can check the games in the currently available Resco Brain Game (with another layout though). I will just comment on the way the games are showed to you.

Just a bit more than 50% of the screen space is dedicated to show you the calculation or puzzle you have to find the answer to. Below that are the four keys that show you (parts of) the answer. In this example, you have to solve the puzzle 5+0 so the answer would be 5. You can now either tap the “5” with your stylus or finger, or just press the right key on your D-Pad. So any way you’d like to enter your answer, Resco has got you covered!

At the top you can see the amount of total questions, and the amoung you’ve answered already. In the screenshot, the first out of 10 questions is being presented. In the center of the top bar you see the progress bar which changes depending on the amount of correctly answered questions. It will indicate the amount of stars you will get after completing the current series of questions. To the right are the question mark which let the blond lady pop up to explain the game. There is also the arrow that takes you back to the previous screen.

Here is the only section of the game where I would suggest a change to Resco. At the moment, opening the Help section inside a game ends the game. So after viewing the explanation of the game, you need to restart from the first puzzle.

If Resco would change this so that you can continue with your current series of questions after viewing the Help section, this immediately provides a way to pause the game. Often, interruptions come in at unconvenient times, and just ignoring your device to answer a question will result in a low-star ranking because of the long time it took you to answer the questions. Giving the Help section a Pause function would combine helpful functions.

[Edit June 6th: Resco has officially released Brain Games, and now the Question mark button pauses the game. So after you view the Help, you can continue with your current series of questions!]

Finally, the results you achieve in the game are grouped together nicely, as they are displayed in the Statistics section available from the beginning screen. You can see a combined overview of your progress, or you can pick one of the other tabs at the bottom. Then the results are split and displayed according to the categories in the game.

After taking this overview of the game, I think Resco has made a smart move. The menu navigation is very logic and the game only has a few sections to browse. From the beginning screen you can only go to the About or Statistics screen using the soft-keys, or go to the Game screen where you can select a difficulty level etc. Gameplay is incredibly straightforward because of the 3-way input method: stylus, finger and D-Pad. The games are not difficult, but it’s the speed that adds to the challenge of achieving 5-star ratings for every level of evert game.

My only comment on this beta version is that I would like to see a Pause function, and that the Help function doesn’t require you to restart your current series of questions. Both can be combined, as discussed above. We will see what Resco does with this comment for the final release, but even if they don’t make changes in this section, it is not a big problem. The games don’t take a long time and you won’t have to access Help often, so when you do need to restart a game, you’ve lost only a couple of seconds.[Edit June 6th: Resco has officially released Brain Games, and now the Question mark button pauses the game. So after you view the Help, you can continue with your current series of questions!]

Resco Brain Games will be a free upgrade to current owners of Resco Brain Gain, and is to be released after completing the beta testing process. Price is $19.95, or $29.93 in the Resco Brain Suite. Find purchase info here!

 

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