While island decorating games are a newer form of social game, brain teasing puzzle apps have been around for quite a while. Popular brain training titles from companies such as Playfish and wooga have always done well, but rarely have they combined themselves with the younger genre. That’s where the Facebook app Uber Brain Isle from Fit Brains comes into play.
Uber Brain Isle combines brain-teasing titles, such as Brain Buddies, and island décor games such as Tiki Resort. Unlike the latter, however, players aren’t taking a tycoon role, but rather they “collect dreams” in order to build up a personal island the way they see fit. However, the combination of these mechanics with the brain teasers feels a bit clunky at best, and neither really feel part of the other.
Mechanic combination aside, the core aspect of Brain Isle is still the decoration of the best island one can imagine. In fact, imagination and dreams appear to be a strong premise in the game, as the primary form of player revenue are various dream factories that produce Brain Coins that can be collected after a set amount of time.
As with most virtual space type of games, placement and collection of coins earns experience (this includes placement of decorative items as well), and the higher one’s level, or Brain Rank, the more objects become unlocked.
Among the unlockable elements of the game are the brain teasing mini-games called Brain Boosts. Currently, there are five games to unlock, and playing them will earn the user a good chunk of bonus coins and experience, depending on how well they do. None are very difficult. With the first game — Lost Treasure — players of pick out which object, amongst an ever increasing set of objects, is different from the others. The second — Dream Journey — consists of replacing a missing puzzle piece to a picture based on what the current image is and the shape of the missing piece.
Though the other three are not unlocked for us yet, its probably safe to say that they are as simple as the initial two. This makes it plausible that this app is intended more for a younger audience. Regardless, what is curious about these games, however, is that the player can only play them once a day for free (or when they level up).
Initially, the game’s launch was announced on Facebook’s Credits page, and lo and behold, this appears to be the slightly more unique use of the virtual currency. Granted, there are decorative items and dream factories that can be bought with Credits, but in order to play a mini-game more than once within a 24 hour period requires anywhere from five to 200 Credits for one and 50 extra plays, respectively.
As far as complaints are concerned, the game play itself is pretty dull. The visuals feel a bit fuzzy and drab, and just doesn’t feel that interesting. Namely, it’s because the means of reaching the objective is the objective itself: Decorate your island to decorate your island. Most other virtual space oriented apps have some other aspect to make that decoration more interesting. Tiki Island was justified by drawing in tourists. Restaurant City was business oriented. Nightclub City’s décor made the club worth more. These had clear visible goals, which is not so much the case here.
The brain training games are a nice touch and an apparent attempt to make up for this lacking, but they just don’t feel integral to the game. They don’t really enhance the game experience at all, save for tossing in a few extra Brain Coins. They’re just sort of… there. If they don’t want to, the player never even has to visit them. Playing them needs a more meaningful effect on the island or the island needs a more meaningful effect on them.
The idea of combining brain-training and decorating is interesting, but this game needs to work on the quality of the mini-games and how they tie in with the overall concept.