Cortex Challenge 2 tests your speed, mental agility, memory and observation skills in one rapid-fire card game.
I was provided with a copy of this game for review purposes.
If you’ve played the original Cortex Challenge, you’ll know what to expect from this new version of the game. Between two and six players compete across a range of eight brain-twisting challenges laid out across 90 cards. Multitasking. Spotting the odd one out. Solving mazes. Recognising pictures by touch. Each test calls on a different set of skills as players race to be the first to find the correct answers and collect all four pieces of their ‘brain jigsaw’.
I played this first as a three-player game with Isaac (aged ten) and Toby (eight). We soon discovered – to both our delight and frustration – that each of us excelled at different challenges. For instance I was hopeless at the Observation challenge. This requires players to identify the one faulty robot from a batch of 36 near-identical images. But I was unbeatable at Squares, which presents a grid where you have to determine the number of empty spaces.
In this respect the variety of challenges was a great leveller. It made for well-balanced games in which any of us could win.
Despite the eight challenges each being distinctly different, they are simple enough to pick up. So it doesn’t take long to start playing and each of the puzzles requires only a few seconds to solve. We found we could easily complete a three-player game in under 15 minutes. So it’s quick to play, compact and doesn’t require a huge amount of space, making it an excellent travel companion. (Although the individual brain jigsaw pieces are small, fiddly and easily lost.)
The game intrigued Kara, who is 5½ and already an adept player herself. However, while she coped well with some challenges, others were too complex for her to compete with the boys. The recommended age of eight-plus is probably about right. And even an eight or nine-year-old who isn’t a fan of brain-teasers may struggle to keep up.
We enjoyed playing the game although I don’t think it’s one with a particularly long shelf life. I would have liked to have had more cards, as I suspect that with regular play our eagle-eyed kids will soon memorise them all. And there isn’t quite enough of an element of chance to allow a less-skilled player to regularly compete with a sharper, faster opponent.
However, as an option to pull off the shelf occasionally Cortex Challenge 2 works well as a family game or as a warm-up ahead of a longer gaming session. If you’re looking for a fun, fast option that gives your brain a workout without requiring membership of Mensa or breaking the bank (RRP £12.99), this is a worthwhile addition to any games collection.