My Four Year Old Son Just Kicked My Ass in a Videogame

[Developer: Nintendo | Publisher: Nintendo]


I like to think of myself as a gamer. A Dad gamer.

I’ve built a gaming rig, bowed down at the feet of Gabe Newell, and slurped up every Steam sale until my digital shelves were truly full.

But fatherhood changes your priorities.

My gaming now centralizes on stealing time; time where I should be working out or doing something more productive while my son sleeps. However, I have found a loophole by finding a game I can play together with my son. That game has been Big Brain Academy for Nintendo Switch. If you have ever played Brain Age for the Nintendo DS, then you’re familiar with the premise, but for the uninitiated, Big Brain Academy is kind of like WarioWare meets an IQ test. The game is a clever mix of brain teaser puzzles packaged as a party game like WarioWare.

It was actually the game’s party-style feel that precipitated the purchase. It wasn’t even my eye that the game originally caught, but rather my wife who wanted to get a fun game to play when you’ve been drinking with friends.

A nice feature to find was that each user playing can adjust the difficulty to balance the scales. The twist, however, is that the easiest setting, Sprout mode, makes the game accessible for a four-year-old, while the game still gives a challenge for the parent.

Choosing difficulty in multiplayer Big Brain Academy
Choosing the difficulty level is on a per-game basis.

So much so that my son aced me four matches to my zero.

Before you insult my (lack of) gaming prowess, let me explain how this game works. You first choose how many individual puzzles you want to solve to count a winner. First to three is plenty. Next, there is a giant wheel that shows a random game once you spin. You can choose to spin one additional time if you don’t like the choice. Then you have the minigames themselves. You’ll see below it changes the game pretty dramatically:

A memory game in Big Brain Academy showing two sets of calculator style interfaces for competing players
I have to memorize and correctly enter the number on the left. My son had to enter the number on the right.

I’m, honest-to-God, giving it my all and still coming up short. It was so bad that my wife asked if I was letting him win, which felt like a warm ocean of shame washing over me like a rising tide. Inescapable. All-encompassing.

Two progress bars showing for a round in Big Brain Academy
Earning any points is better than nothing…

So, in short, I’m going to give Big Brain Academy a must-buy for fellow Gamer Dads looking to foster a competitive spirit of gaming in their family. There is also, of course, the potential to play in other party scenarios that make it very versatile. It has a 72 Metacritic score, and overall it’s fair to say that it could use more minigames as they do get repetitive after a while, though for 30 bucks, I’ll give it a pass.

But have no fear, when my son is old enough to play Smash Bros, he’s gonna catch these hands.

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