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Castle of Dr. Brain (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37741)
Written on  :  May 25, 2014
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars3.8 Stars

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Summary

All this puzzle-solving just to become a scientist's apprentice?

The Good

Sierra became a high-profile company since they released King's Quest, and in the early Nineties, they wanted to focus on the education market with different developers spearheading certain titles. The first educational title was called The Castle of Dr. Brain which focused on math, logic, programming, and astronomy, among other topics. The first in a series of games was designed by Corey Cole, who also helped produce the Quest for Glory series along with his wife.

The game starts off with a view of the bridge leading to Dr. Brain's castle (in silhouette form) which eventually lights up to reveal a castle that is full of gadgets on the outside, letting the player know what to expect in terms of puzzles. The different animations of the exterior are neat; I especially like the cuckoo clock on the side and the telescope that winds up.

Inside, the castle is well designed, consisting of three floors and a basement. separated by maze elevators. The design of the floors lets the player know what kind of puzzles they will face. For instance, the second floor looks high-tech, so the puzzles will be about logic and programming. I like watching the game credits, as it includes videos of the developers who worked on the game, plastered onto the tiny monitors.

There are three difficulty levels, which determine how easy or hard the puzzles are. In each difficulty level, most of the puzzles in the game are slightly different. When I played this game, at the “Novice” level, I found that most of them were easy enough to figure out. However, the maze elevators gave me nightmares.

The puzzles that I enjoyed doing are the programming/logic ones where you have to use one of three robots to pick up the items in a glass case.I only had to refer to the hint book for the small few. Other times, I would spend a hint coin or two (which happen to look like those buckazoids from Space Quest IV) for the game to reveal part of the answer. When you manage to complete the puzzle, you are awarded an item that helps you get through the floors.

The music in this game is really something. The game starts off with a nice Sierra rendition of Bach's Toccata and Fugue, but then splits up into an upbeat tune. During the game, the music continues to be excellent. The sound effects are nice as well, with the majority of sound effects also found in future Sierra games.

Finally, I disagree with anyone claiming that Dr. Brain is too short. They usually take about ten to fifteen minutes to complete if you are not familiar with them enough; or just five minutes if one of the puzzles are your forté. It took me days to complete the one jigsaw puzzle because I was not good at them.

The Bad

The hint coins should never have been a part of the game, due to their misuse by the player. Any idiot could save a game in the middle of a puzzle and use a hint coin to get one part of its solution; then restore and solve it manually making them useless.

The Bottom Line

The Castle of Dr. Brain is Sierra's first educational title where the player has to go through the scientist's castle by solving puzzles that cover a variety of topics from math to astronomy. The graphics are great, and the design of each of the four floors indicate what type of puzzles the player will face. The music also blends in with whatever floor you're on. Due to the multiple difficulty settings the game has, the game is replayable if you want more of a challenge. And if that still isn't enough, you can get yourself the hint book for the game, which has extra puzzles for you to solve long before you get to the hints.