So, why are these two staring so intently at that vase in the middle?
Brain Wave seems like a complicated mess at frist glance. There is a pile of about 90 little cardboard squares to be used (thought tiles), little cardboard holders (memory banks) for the squares (similar to Scrabble), a gameboard and two little cardboard rectangles (power markers) with holes in them for keeping track of spending Brain Power Points. After a little bit of a learning curve for me, and a little bit of a teaching curve trying to explain it to my son, we found this game to be fun and interesting.
Each player starts off with their Player Spot at the Red Circle in the middle of the appropriate Head on the Überlay. On a player's turn, as a Defender, they roll the dice (two) to determine how many squares they may move their Player Spot through the maze. There's no backtracking and they may never land on the spot from which they started. The other player, the Attacker, has to maneuver their English control (They don't all-cap "ENGLISH" in these instructions like they used to, go figure) so that when the reset button is pressed, it hits the Defender's Player Spot.
Brain Power Points are earned depending on where in the grid the defending Player Spot rests. The easier spots are worth less points than the harder spots, as one would assume. The interesting gameplay is that the Defender chooses where to put the Attacker's target and indirectly decides the points the Attacker will earn if the Attarker's "Brain Wave" (Ball Spot) should establish contact with the Defender's Spot. This is "Brain Wave" attack is not an easy thing to do at first. We spent many turns trying to get it right. There was enough of a balance between challange and unpredictability that we kept wanting to try again and again.
The Brain Power Points are used to purchase Thought Tiles which are used to build a Train of Thought across the board. The Tiles are randomly drawn and consist of four patterns. A straight line is called a Logic tile. A right angled turn is called a Mind Bender. A four-way intersection is called a Decision Point. A terminating line is called a Mental Block. You lay each tile down like a railroad track (get it? Trains of Thought?) and try to outmaneuver your opponent's track. There are a lot of different strategies to play which we didn't get to explore in our one game, mostly involving when to use "Mental Breakthroughs" to cross an opponent's Train of Thought and when to hang on to the rarer tiles for later use. This is one of the few games on the Odyssey where we found the Video Game Component and the Board Game Component to be equally engaging.
My son, 7, who was frustrated to tears with Invasion (even though he loves Risk ), really had a good time with Brain Wave. When he has fun, I have fun. It's one of those "reasons for becoming a parent" kind of things. Especially cool, it was, to see him work out tactics for limiting the Brain Power points I could gain by positioning his spot in easy to hit but low point earning areas. Smart boy. Good looking, too, but I digress.
Full marks for this one. It's a shame Brain Wave is so bloody rare. I think I might do a simulation of it in Flash if I ever grow a big enough brain to handle the programming/project management aspects of such a task.
Ultraman 11, Odyssey 14
Only one game left. You do the math. It doesn't look good for Ultraman.