The Encleverment Experiment from Blitz Arcade is a brain-training like puzzle game, done in the style of a 1960’s TV game show. The eccentric and preposterously named Professor Ivor Question, invites players to his extraordinarily funky lab to compete in a series of challenges that will either make the player feel like a laughable failure, or a cerebral god.
At the beginning of the game, the player gets to choose the opponent he will go up against. Each of these has a quiz speciality, but they need to be beaten in sequence in order to play against all fifteen of them. There are four varying levels of difficulty to cater, from the bacon butty to the lobster bisque of intelligence, all still require a good degree of thought, but the easier levels give stacks more time to make a decision on an answer.
Subjects cover all the basic brain skills, such as language, mathematics, logic, memory, observation and six are covered per game. Each round has five questions and it's a case of fastest finger first for the fantastic prize. The final round gives the opportunity to steal points from your opponent, further humiliating their lack of ingenuity. Speed and accuracy is again at the forefront of any winning answer.
The clever bit of Encleverment is not without warrant – puzzles such as the cog game take a lot of concentration and certainly requires a good degree of thinking. Indeed, Encleverment does present a series of challenging and thought provoking puzzles, but the big slap in the face is simply down to the limited variety of them on offer. It doesn't take very long before they're all repeated and to be frank some are simply irritatingly obtuse.
Pie-Eye is about fractions and it's up to the player to pick the correctly shaped pie that completes the delicious equation. Others are trickier, not least of which is the Tone game, where the professor will walk through a corridor exposing objects with a flashlight along with an accompanying sound. Four of these are shown before the player is expected to select the correct item simply from recognising the played-back sample – it's not an easy win.
As progress is made through the game, and the player’s brain increases in cleverness capacity, the mascot shop is available to visit. Thankfully this doesn't entail having to waste Microsoft Points on frivolous immaterial objects; instead earnings from playing the game can be used to acquire purposeless in-game items; they simply sit there on the player’s desk in-game (although there is an achievement gained for collecting all of them).
Along with the single player action, there's the chance to pit your wits against the Xbox Live community. Once again though, this appears to be an XBLA title that very few people are playing and so getting an online match is all but impossible. This is perhaps no surprise because the challenges presented do require a degree of contemplation, rather than the more usual dissemination of body parts via an automatic machine gun. Sitting at the multiplayer menu waiting for a game isn't helped at all by the continual annoying commentary, which is more nag than a racing horse retirement home, and it's something that really does start to grate after a while. Initially it's quite cute, but that jollity doesn't last particularly long. If there were more of it perhaps this would be different, but thankfully it can be turned off.
The Encleverment Experiment is an interesting and well-presented brain teasing game, but its limited scope for single player means it’s not a long term endeavour. This coupled with the fact that multiplayer matches are all but non-existent make The Encleverment Experiment hard to recommend as a purchase.
Marty has been gaming since the heady years of the ZX-81 and still owns most of the gaming systems purchased since those days, including the Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum, SNES, Jaguar, Dreamcast and GameCube. Being a collection junkie (or more accurately, hoarder), he buys more games than he can possibly play, far too many of which are still sealed in their packaging. Marty favours RPGs and Driving games when it comes to genres, and is possibly a little bit too addicted to Disgaea. When not gaming he’s out frightening OAPs on his motorcycle, clad in black leather.