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Brain Buster Puzzle Pak

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Agetec
Developer: Agetec
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Brain Buster Puzzle Pack, like many puzzle games, doesn't really have anything outstanding in the graphics department, but then what puzzle game really does? There's only so much you can do to numbers on a grid to make the graphics flashy. What it does provide, though, is easy and intuitive to use. The main map where you select your puzzle is laid out on a cartoon picture of a city block. Each puzzle is a building, so it is easy to find where to click to play the puzzle you want. The extras you can select show up as either tents or flashing signs, so they're easy to find too. I found the way the puzzles were shown to be very helpful. The colors make the numbers easily visible in Sudoku; the text is easy to read, and the grids are easy to work with. Brain Buster also provides wallpapers that you can unlock, so if you don't like the default background, you can change it.

Once again, like most puzzle games, there's really not much sound involved, other than background music. The background music isn't bad, but it does get slightly annoying after a while. I just kept it turned down. I did like that each puzzle has a different "distraction" that flies around the edge of the board. The distractions are different in each puzzle, and when you click on them to banish them away, the balloon makes a popping sound, the spaceship beeps like a UFO might, and the fish makes a squishy noise. Not that these sounds are useful to the gameplay, but just a nice extra.


Brain Buster Puzzle Pack provides five different classic puzzle games to entertain you: Sudoku, Light Up, Slitherlink, Kakuro, and Nurikabe. If you're familiar with Nikoli puzzle books, you probably already know how to play these puzzles. If you're not, though, the Tutorial mode will show you how to play each of them. After you learn how to play, if you want to practice without affecting your score, you can go to the Training mode. When you're ready to start earning points for playing, choose the Game mode.

There is not a direct link to the Tutorial from the Main screen. Instead, select either Training or Game mode, click start to go into the mode, and then click on Tutorial. You'll be given the option of which game you want a tutorial in (unless you chose to start it directly from the Game mode, in which case you'll be given that game's tutorial), then the option of Puzzle Tutorial, Operation Tutorial, or Item Tutorial. Puzzle Tutorial tells you the concept of the puzzle and some best practices for solving. Operation Tutorial basically shows you what to click on and where to click. Item Tutorial shows you how to use the items in the game. There's really only two items in Brain Buster, answer balls and wallpapers. Answer balls will show you the correct answer for a single block or square or line. The maximum number of answer balls you can have at any point in time is 99. Wallpapers let you change the background, but you have to change it with each puzzle. You can't select an option to say use this as my background from now on, which would have been a nice feature.

Training mode is essentially an endless supply of random puzzles for whichever game you chose to play. They change every time, but you don't get any points for playing them. You can earn answer balls (tapping on three of the "distractions" to get rid of them will earn you one answer ball), but you will not unlock any wallpaper pieces during Training mode.

Finally, in Game mode, you have 50 levels for each game (50 more unlockable in Sudoku and Kakuro). Each level is the same every time you play it. No matter how many times you play level 15, it's going to be the same puzzle every time, so you can't get past a level by just exiting the mode and going back in to get a different puzzle. The maximum number of points you can get on a single puzzle is 30. The longer you take, the less points you get for solving it. You also lose a point for each answer ball you use.


Brain Buster Puzzle Pack is probably one of the easier games I've played. You have to start at puzzle 1, the easiest one available, and work your way up. Honestly, I would like to have skipped some of the first ones, especially in Sudoku and Kakuro. For the first 25 puzzles or so, I don't think it took me any more than 30 seconds in Kakuro, which got boring pretty quickly. I was worried that neither Sudoku or Kakuro was going to force me to think at all, until I completed all 50 puzzles and unlocked the next 50. Of those, the next 25 are a little harder, the last 25 are decent puzzles. They weren't difficult enough that I ever had to use an answer ball, though.

Slitherlink and Nurikabe were a little more difficult to me, mainly because I haven't played them as much before getting Brain Buster. There are only 50 puzzles total available for each of those; there aren't any that can be unlocked. The only thing you unlock in playing them is wallpaper pieces. Light Up was new to me, but I found it to be the easiest of all. I think I finished all 50 levels of it in under an hour. I was a little disappointed when I ran out of them, as I would have liked to have had another 50 to unlock, but I can always play them in Training Mode for endless puzzles or go back and replay of the levels that I've beaten already.

Game Mechanics:

Brain Buster Puzzle Pack tells you as soon as you start it that only the stylus is used in this game. Indeed, the rest of the buttons do absolutely nothing. If you want to pause the game, you can't use the (START) or (SELECT) button, you have to click on the Menu. To me, though, this is a good thing. Since everything you do uses the stylus, you can concentrate on solving the puzzles rather than trying to figure out what button to press.

For the two number games, Sudoku and Kakuro, you simply click on the number you want to use and then click on the box you want to place the number. In Sudoku, when you click on the number, it'll highlight the rest of those on the board already, which makes it much easier to see. Kakuro provides you a number chart, which shows possible combinations to add up to a number, making it easier to decide what goes where. Both puzzles also provide the "pencil in" option that I was upset was not available when I reviewed Zendoku. If you're unsure if a number belongs there or not, you click the memo button and the numbers will get smaller, allowing you to put up to four numbers in a single box. When you know which you want, click memo again to go back to normal size and put the number in.

In Nurikabe and Light up, you fill in blocks to achieve the set goal. To fill in the block, click on the dark block and then click where you want it to go. If you want to mark a box as being left blank for sure, click on the dot and put it there.

In Slitherlink, you connect corners to make a single loop around the board. To make a line, click on the line button and on the edge you want to put it on. To mark an edge as empty, click on the x and click on the edge you know has to be empty.

Overall, I enjoyed Brain Buster. There's nothing fancy about it, but you don't need fancy in a puzzle game. I've been doing the Nikoli puzzle books for years and they're always very well done puzzles. Brain Buster is no different. It's not the hardest puzzles I've ever played, but there are some tricky ones. Besides, it's fun and much easier to carry around than a puzzle book!

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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