Inside Pulse 12

Review: Margot’s Word Brain (Nintendo Wii)

About time they made a Supernanny game.
Margot’s Word Brain
Genre: Virtual Intelligence Insulter and Waster of Precious Time
Developer: No one seems to want to admit to it (Seriously, even the game’s official homepage doesn’t list a developer. It turns out it is an obscure little company called Slam Games).
Publisher: Zoo Games
Release Date: Sept. 26, 2008


Writing for Diehard Gamefan is full of surprises such as, for instance, finding a package in my mailbox one morning, tearing through the bubble wrap and discovering I’d been sent Margot’s Word Brain, a kid’s edutainment game from the publisher of such top-shelf titles as Barnyard Blast, Garfield’s Fun Fest and that timeless classic, Calvin Tucker’s Redneck Jamboree.

Could this be Lucard’s subtle way of criticizing my spelling abilities? Well I’m offended sir, I’ll have you know I’m a master of uh, you know, words and stuff. I’m very eloquint, er elloquaint…hmmm, no that’s not right either. Margot, save me!

I knew that darnit!!

Aw shucks Margot, what would I do without you? Onward to the magical mind-expanding adventures!

1) Modes

The ambitious developers of Word Brain saw fit to include a whopping 6 unique minigames in the title, most of which are boring, generic versions of well known word games. You get boring, generic Boggle, Scrabble, Word Search and more. No crosswords though, as those would take a small amount of effort to put together.

Modes Rating: Bad

2) Graphics

Lots of lettered tiles, and that’s about it. The page I’m typing on in Microsoft Word is about as visually stimulating. If I were to turn that cursed paperclip helper on it would probably be a slightly more exciting visual feast than Word Brain.

Graphics Rating: Bad

3) Sound

Here we have the highlight of the game (which says something since I’m still giving the section a “poor” rating). There’s not much music to speak of, and the voice actress they used for Margot sounds kind of nasally and annoying, but the developers made up for it somewhat by hiring the most unjustifiably enthusiastic folks ever to sing for you.

When you start up the game you’ll be greeted with…

“Maaarrrgot’s Wooord Brain…YEAH!”

When you select a mode to play it’s the same.

“Wooooord Search…YEAH!”

These people get excited about anything, even your failures.

“Gaaame over…YEAH!”

With a game like this you have grasp at any shred of entertainment you can find, and giggling at the game’s constant, desperately overzealous YEAHs is about as fun as Margot’s Word Brain ever gets.

Sound Rating: Poor

HOB

4) Control and Gameplay

Margot’s Word Brain is played entirely with the Wiimote, mostly in a point and click fashion. Sounds good, except your cursor moves at a frustratingly slow pace and there are occasional glitches when it comes to selecting letters. On top of that, there a handful of oversights that smack of rushed development. For instance, the fact that once you select something in this game there’s no way to back out. Did you accidentally choose “Word Mine” instead of “Word Search” from the main menu? Too bad, you’re stuck, because there’s no way to get back to the main menu until you’ve finished playing through a round of Word Mine.

Now, Let’s go through the dazzling myriad of minigames Word Brain offers the player.

Word Link: Basically Boggle without the only thing that makes Boggle much fun; that of course being shaking the letter cubes around then slamming them on the table.

Word Mine: This is the jumble from the kiddie fun page in your local paper. Since it’s randomized much of the time there are no actual words to be found in the letters you’re given.

Hyper Txt: A minigame designed to teach kids how to properly text message. Yes, seriously. Apparently it’s important to train kids early in the fine art of being a dou””

Running jokes for the win.

Whoops, sorry Margot. I’ll behave myself.

Word Run: This is Scrabble, except played on a tiny field, with no double or triple word scores and a very limited dictionary of words available to you. In other words, it achieves the nigh impossible and makes Scrabble more boring.

Word Safe: This is the same as Word Link, except now the letters are in a circle.

Word Search: For some reason they didn’t give this one a non-descriptive Margot-ized name. It’s a basic word search except you’re only looking for 3 words on a tiny field.

Word Brain: Well now, this minigame must at least be exciting; I mean, they named the whole game after it! Well no actually, Word Brain is just the 6 other games played one after another in a mundane marathon.

My final bone of contention is with the dictionary the game uses. Even I didn’t know the definitions of about a third of the words used in the game, and I’m a 26-year-old professional writer. This game is supposed to be for elementary school kids; if I’ve never heard of a lot of the words used in this game, what hope does a six-year-old have? I might be able to somewhat forgive this game’s failure as entertainment if it was teaching kids how to spell words they may actually use, but with this ridiculous dictionary it’s not even doing that.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Poor

5) Replayability

It only took me around 20 minutes to play through all of Word Brain’s modes, and yet there was still a devil on my shoulder telling me to only play through half of them and just review it based on that (Don’t worry though, being a man of class and integrity I subjected myself to all of them). I say without any exaggeration that I’d rather just sit in a chair and stare at a blank TV screen for 20 minutes than have to play this game on it.

Replayability Rating: Worthless

6) Balance

Completely broken. Some games are far harder than others, and in general they’re all too difficult for young children. Also every game uses totally randomized letters, meaning your scores rarely have anything to do with your spelling ability, but rather the fact that the computer decided to give you nothing but E’s in Word Mine.

Worst of all, the game’s dreadful balance may actually make your kids feel bad. After playing through the “Word Brain” section, the game will give you a Brain Age-like rating represented by a light bulb. I tried it a couple times, and never got better than a “40-Watts” rating. Again, this is from an adult who gets paid money to write things. I imagine most kids will get a flickering barely illuminated bulb and a “5-Watts” rating every time they play, and nothing makes a kid less eager to learn than informing them over and over again that they’re a dullard.

Balance Rating: Dreadful

7) Originality

Margot’s Word Brain is nothing more than a bunch of standard word games made even more generic than they already were. When playing a game like this have to wonder about the developers behind it; how do people so unambitious and unimaginative get into a creative field like game design in the first place? I imagine there was a lot of drinking going on amongst the team that squeezed out this turd.

Originality Rating: Dreadful

8) Addictiveness

I felt the irresistible urge to shut this game off and never touch it again about 5 seconds after seeing the title screen. This game is the essence of apathy in a DVD-case.

Addictiveness Rating: Worthless

Boringtastic!

9) Appeal Factor

As terrible as this game is, it will still sell to doddering grandparents looking for something for little Billy for Christmas, and to those no fun over-protective hippie parents that only let their kids play educational games and have everything but PBS blocked on the TV.

Also the picture of Margot on the front of the box looks like Supernanny, except younger and even more sexy (sadly Word Brain disappoints yet again as Margot looks nothing like Supernanny in the game itself. Teases).

Appeal Factor Rating: Bad

10) Miscellaneous

God, what else is there to say? I think I’ve pretty thoroughly established by this point that Margot’s Word Brain is garbage. I do have a question though; when did it become accepted that it was okay for children’s entertainment to all be brainless sludge? Back when I was a lad all games were made to be acceptable for children, and I was raised on awesome stuff like Mario, Zelda, Maniac Mansion and Punch-out, which resulted in me still being a hardened fan 20 years later! They also made decent cartoons and movies for kids back then too; these days though all kids have are Teletubbies and Word Brains. Just because kids are young doesn’t mean they’re stupid.

Oh and one other thing; why is this game rated E10+? Does Margot suffer a wardrobe malfunction or get struck with a bout of tourette’s somewhere in the game? If so I may have to reconsider my opinion of Word Brain.

Miscellaneous Rating: Worthless

The Scores
Story/Modes: Bad
Graphics: Bad
Sound: Poor
Control and Gameplay: Poor
Replayability: Worthless
Balance: Dreadful
Originality: Dreadful
Addictiveness: Worthless
Appeal Factor: Bad
Miscellaneous: Worthless

Final Score: Very Bad Game

Short Attention Span Summary

An incredibly lazy effort that falls flat on it’s face as both entertainment or any sort of half-decent educational tool, and I urge all parents not to inflict it on their poor innocent children. Put simply as possible, Margot’s Word Brain is a huge, festering pile of sh””

Seriously Margot, you suck.

Aw, c’mon Margot. You know as well as I do you had it coming.

Reeeeeview oooover…YEAH!

Tags: , ,