Smart As...

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Smart As... Game Poster Image
Playful brain workout provides social media bragging rights.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to think quickly and logically. Smart As... reinforces spelling, reading, and arithmetic skills, including addition/subtraction, multiplication/division, and greater than/less than. It may also help them with focus, as the observation games require undivided attention. While not intended to teach new skills, Smart As... is a great game for learning to use existing skills more efficiently and effectively.

Positive Messages

The game encourages you to exercise your brain regularly, but it frames intelligence in a competitive way by comparing results to see who is "smartest."

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are no characters in this game.

Ease of Play

Each of the games has a set of instructions, but would benefit from a sample demo video, especially on some of the logic games. One of the word games asks you to spell a word after listening to it. The speaker is British and it may be difficult for Americans to understand exactly what she's saying. Another game asks users to tap certain areas on the front and rear touch screens. Those with smaller hands or any type of limitation will struggle to hold the device while tapping accurately.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Smart As... is a brain exercise game in the style of Brain Age. While younger children can enjoy some of the games, it is best suited for teens and adults. Some of the games are logic- and observation-based, while others require an ability to spell, read, and do math. Due to limitations on the PlayStation Vita, the game only has one user profile; sharing it across family members will skew the scores. 

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What's it about?

SMART AS... is a brain training game with four areas of focus: observation, arithmetic, language, and logic. Each area has five different games to unlock over time, and each of the games has four difficulty levels ranging from easy to genius. Each day, players complete a set of challenges (one in each area) and receive a brain score for the day. Completing the daily challenge unlocks a new game. The games are varied and make use of all of the PS Vita's bells and whistles. Some ask you to fill in the missing letter or number in a word or math problem. Others ask you to remember certain objects in order or as they move around the screen. The logic puzzles involve moving pieces around a board or connecting pegs with certain constraints. There is a jigsaw puzzle that uses whatever is on camera as a moving image. A few games use the AR (augmented reality) cards that came with the device.

Is it any good?

Smart As... is certainly a fun take on brain training with a nice selection of games. Some of them feel gimmicky, especially those that use the AR cards to "shoot" objects that appear to be floating in your room. Some seem hard simply because the PS Vita is a large device to hold comfortably. And there can be frustrating moments due to the highly sensitive touch screen. Even with those drawbacks, most of the games work well and make you want to keep trying. There's an incentive to score well to unlock harder levels (and for bragging rights); and coming back each day will help you unlock new games more quickly.

Smart As... has an interesting social component. Players can upload their scores to compare with friends or with others around the world. Each day the game asks you a question about yourself to place you in a group, such as whether you're an early or late riser. As you play, the game tells you how you rank in intelligence compared to others in your group. You can see who is the smartest in your neighborhood based on those using the Near app that comes on the PS Vita. This social aspect becomes questionable since there is no break down by age. A 20-something should typically score higher than a 10-year-old on a test that requires extensive understanding of vocabulary words. You have to connect to the PlayStation Network to upload your score, so that portion is optional if you aren't feeling competitive.  Overall, thumbs up to Smart As..., despite a few drawbacks, it's clever and fun and manages to keep you on your toes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the idea of exercising your brain daily by playing games. Do you think it helps?

  • What do you think about comparing intelligence with others? Does it motivate you to try harder? 

  • How do you think your scores change based on the amount of sleep you have had? What you have had for breakfast? What other factors might impact your score on a day-to-day basis?

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