“A Beautiful Allegory for The Value of Education.”
An XboxHornet Preview by Liam Jugler.
[While Brain Jump 1+2 were reviewed on XboxHornet here, with the release of the latest installment, another of our intrepid reviewers has tackled the series again, intent on giving it a fresh perspective...]
The Brain Jump series is an allegory for the perceived value of human intelligence throughout the past century and an attack on the American education system.
The game series began with Brain Jump 1. Brain Jump 1 contains 11 ‘games’ which in reality are not really games, but a collection of math, writing and reading questions much like you would get at school. The questions come at you quickly and at higher difficulties are genuinely difficult problems. The game tests the fundamental building bricks of intelligence. The allusion to high school questions is not a mistake, but rather a direct homage to these places of learning where, theoretically, we are equipped with the basic tools required to take on the world. The first game reflects early quiz shows of the 50s where the questions were more detailed, often required advanced mathematics or classical knowledge to win.
In this sense, the first game is a fairly functional, though rather bland and uninspired. The questions could be gotten for free and it lacks enough features to be called anything more than mediocre. However, when put aside its two sequels, we can see that Brain Jump is actually an examination of societies changing perception of the mind.
Starting with Brain Jump 2, the focus changes dramatically. Brain Jump 2 still contains a handful of fundamental style quizzes, but several of the quizzes are dedicated to the memorization of pop culture and basic facts, much like teaching has moved from a job focused on teaching fundamental tools to forcing the memorization of SAT questions on children. The relationship between intelligence and pop culture hardly needs to be stated. As if to reinforce this already clear message, the bulk of the quizzes in question test your knowledge of pop music, one of the primary parts of our culture that is blamed for lowering intelligence in younger people. If the first game reflects an earlier time in education and societies approach to intelligence, Brain Jump 2 is the transition period.
The third game cements this reading. Any problems requiring traditional intelligence are gone, and replaced with memorization quizzes on Video Games, Wars, American History, Music, Food, TV and curiously, the Bible. The game has devolved into regurgitation of rote facts without a requirement for understanding. Most of the quizzes are merely testing your memory of dates. For further evidence, one must only look at the difference between the science quiz and the sports quiz. The science category only asks for the dates of a variety of events, while the sports section asks for weights, explanations of terms, all things that require at least a working knowledge of the subject. Interestingly, one of the only other categories that resemble the sports category is the Bible section. This brings the subject of quiz shows back to mind, with the current generation of said shows focusing similarly on dates and rote facts, while earlier shows focused on more detailed questions.
In conclusion, though at first glance, the Brain Jump series is, at best, a mediocre series of quiz games, of which better quality can be found for cheaper elsewhere, the series has value as a commentary. Series like this can show that games do not need to be a one dimensional simplistic distraction, and with enough thought and research, you can make a game as basic and lacking in value as Brain Jump into something much more interesting.
Series Score: 2/10. (or 10/10 as an artistic interpretation of the American Education System. Your call…)