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Why do I get all the puzzle games? This latest effort involves less mental dexterity and strategic thinking than most, and is in fact little more than a particularly nasty kind of memory tester. A pattern of various shapes appears on a 5x5 grid for 60 seconds, and you have to memorise it before it disappears.

Random shapes then fall from the sky, and you and your opponent (computer or human) have to run around madly in a battle to grab the pieces and slot them into the correct positions on their respective grids.

Various embellishments (training mode, placing bets on the outcome, assorted special blocks and so on) have been added in a rather desperate attempt to give proceedings a touch of added depth, but the basic nature of the gameplay is still extremely simple.

When you actually get down to playing, however, matters are complicated by the fact that many of the blocks are very similar in shape and colouring, and by the uncomfortable balance between ridiculously easy levels and stupidity complex ones that your average human being will get hopelessly lost in (especially in two-player mode - at least against the computer you can watch your opponent and copy him if you're stuck).

When confronted with such a screen, my guess is that most people's reaction is likely to be 'Oh God, I just can't be bothered with this.' Making things horribly difficult is all very well, but if you don't also make them reasonably entertaining, there's no incentive for anyone to carry on torturing themselves for no reward.

Brain Blasters more or less completely fails to provide any such entertainment value, so all you're left with is an unpleasant and depressing way in which to waste a few empty hours of your presumably valuable time.

The metallic graphics are too clever for their own good, and don't help any (in a game like this, it's primary colours or nothing as far as I'm concerned), and generally the whole thing is a dull and pointless waste of time and money.

The Brain Blasters logo

The wizards are revolting (and it's not just their personal habits). Whichever one passes the test of IOZU will become the grand master and dominate the rest. To pass this test the wizard has to defeat the dark side of his spirit by completing a series of memory puzzles.

A pattern is displayed at the start of each level, which then has to reproduced by you. Unlike most games you don't control the pieces. Instead you operate a little wizard who has to scurry around collecting the pieces of the pattern as they fall from the heavens and then place them on board.

Initially, the puzzles are easy, normally consisting of textured squares that look like Swiss crispbread. When a slice of crispbread is placed of the board in the correct position a little light flashes to let you know you've got it right. As the game progresses the patterns become far more complex, often resembling intestines with bits of biscuit on top (seriously!). Reproducing that lot from memory is almost impossible.

The presentation is very slick. There's a good intro with sampled sound and a snazzy picture. The menu screen has a couple of finely animated dragons and there's an option that lets you trade gold (points) for tips which is another nice touch. When you've scored 1,750 gold pieces you can take the IOZU challenge where you have to avoid a swinging pendulum.

Brain Blasters is fun to begin with, but after the fifth level, or so, the novelty value begins to pale. There's a two-player mode where a couple of wizards can battle it out for the pieces but even this becomes boring. Devotees of memory puzzles in The Express will probably like this, otherwise you'd be well-advised to try before you buy.