Tricky Test 2: Genius Brain

App review by
Galen McQuillen, Common Sense Media
Tricky Test 2: Genius Brain App Poster Image
Tricky, frustrating puzzler with glitches pranks players.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Offers some divergent thinking practice, requiring players to read instructions critically and break the traditional "rules" of mobile games, but there's little evidence that these kinds of puzzles actually translate their wacky outside-the-box experiences to real-world problem-solving.

Ease of Play

The game is deliberately hard to play -- that's the whole shtick. Instructions never mean what you think they mean, buttons don't always work the way they should, and the interface changes in unexpected ways. Most of the time, it's all part of the joke, but occasionally these tricks cause more frustration than they do gameplay satisfaction. 

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

In-app purchase reminders pop up every few levels or so, and timed in-game currency gifts keep players hungry for more. Coins can only be spent on puzzle hints and solutions, many of which can be found online with a quick search, but there's no good way to avoid advertisements. If you answer a level incorrectly five times, the game offers the choice to buy your way back in or go back three levels. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tricky Test 2: Genius Brain is a puzzle game that deliberately works to confuse, prank, and bamboozle players through more than 100 bite-sized and ever-changing games. Given how all puzzles require a clever and careful reading (or breaking) of rules, this is likely going to appeal more to older kids. Note that kids can connect to Facebook for players to challenge friends and post scores, and some users report ads with iffy content. At the time of review, the privacy policy link results in an error message.

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What's it about?

TRICKY TEST 2: GENIUS BRAIN is a series of more than 100 puzzles that direct the player to interact with on-screen words, objects, or numbers but with intentionally misleading instructions or outside-the-box solutions. For example, instructions might read "drag me into the box" and display a square on-screen; to solve, players must drag the word "me" from the instructions into the box. From there, puzzles become increasingly difficult, often requiring mathematical skills to figure out patterns and equations or physical manipulation of the mobile device in specific ways. At any point, players can spend in-game currency to get a hint or buy a solution to bypass a level. After five incorrect tries on a puzzle, the game deducts points from the player's "IQ" and gives the option either to spend coins to continue or go back and replay the last three levels. Players can earn coins through timed free gifts, by watching advertisements, or by buying them from the in-app store, and full-screen advertisements interrupt gameplay ever five levels or so. 

Is it any good?

This puzzler would be a blast if it weren't so frequently frustrating and full of ads and purchases. The puzzles in Tricky Test 2: Genius Brain are occasionally fun, clever, or just outright funny, but more often than not they elicit groans and frustrations, especially when solutions are nearly impossible to discover without more trial and error than the game allows with punishment or purchases. Because it penalizes players for experimenting to solve problems, it promotes a very narrow view of success and intelligence that favors flawlessness and sheer luck over persistence and patience. Many puzzles aren't truly satisfyingly "clever" or "tricky"; they're just dishonest, and success at the game sends a message that intentional deception is fun -- a potentially dangerous idea for kids. Aside from these fundamental issues, it is sometimes glitchy. For example, there's a puzzle in which ketchup should come out of a bottle, but many users report getting stuck because the game mechanic just won't work on their device, preventing them from continuing. Though the concept of thinking creatively is a solid one, this app is more frustrating than fun.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about divergent thinking, which Tricky Test 2: Genius Brain requires as its core mechanic. What does it mean to think outside the box, and how is true cleverness and problem-solving different from wordplay "tricks"?

  • Talk about in-app purchases and ads. What are your rules around them?

  • Discuss persistence in problem-solving. Many games require quite a few tries to get them right (which the game punishes with a decrement to "IQ"), but it's not possible to progress without clearing every level. This can be very frustrating -- how can a break from the game or a few deep breaths help with those feelings?

  • Talk about intelligence or what it means to be smart. The game measures players' scores as "IQ," giving the impression that solving every puzzle without making mistakes is a measure of intelligence. What is the value of mistakes? And given that the world is full of so many things to be good at or learn about, how can one puzzle game gauge how smart a person is?

App details

For kids who love puzzles and problem-solving

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