Not Not – A Brain Buster

Well, this one is different. Because Not Not – A Brain Buster (which I was disappointed to learn isn’t a spinoff of BrainSmasher: A Love Story) is the first time in 594 indies played where the person who asked me to give it a try was my Mother. Now, that might not be significant to some, but my Mom isn’t exactly someone who I gamed a lot with growing up. Which is not to say we never played video games together in the Vice household. I’ve written previously about the time a brain parasite called Peggle had us under its thrall. And, like almost any family with a gaming child and non-gaming parents, when the Wii arrived there was a brief but potent Wii Sports period where we’d do the bowling (and sometimes the less fun golfing) every day. And then there was the month where we played Boom Blox for hours every night, usually until someone started complaining their shoulders were hurting. The classic “I’m getting my ass kicked and can’t hit the broad side of a barn today but I don’t want to seem like a total pussy so I’ll claim a non-existent injury” move. In the Bay, we call it “Pulling a Monta Ellis.”

Speaking of Boom Blox.. where the hell is it on Switch? I dare say the Joycons would be better for it than the Wiimotes. We need to bring this series back. It was just so god damned fun!

Beyond that, there was only one significant gaming moment I had with my Mother. A few years ago, we were playing Angry Birds Space on our phones. My Mom was, and still is, deeply into the series. I was stuck on a stage. Well, not stuck-stuck. More like I was casually exploring the nature of the level and searching for deeper meaning. But, before I achieved nirvana, she coldly snatched my phone from me, aced it on her first try, and handed my phone back to me with the most adorable/sickening look of pride on her face. No, I didn’t need her. It’s not like I’d spent twenty minutes on that stage, grinding my teeth and cussing under my breath. But I wanted her to feel like I needed her. I mean, she did give birth to me. Least I could do. I let her have it the moment. Really. No, I’m not willing to pinky swear. If that shit actually works, I’m fond of my pinkies so.. hey wait..

Okay, so gaming isn’t a Vice Family tradition. But my Mom, who spends roughly thirteen hours a day on her phone, found Not Not a while back and wanted me to review it for IGC. I told her “well, I don’t do mobile reviews” in the same tone of voice I have to use to tell her I don’t really want to watch vapid ignoramuses hock their shitty wares when she tells me the Kardashians are on. And then I made a grave mistake a few weeks ago when Not Not hit the Switch: I asked her if this was the game she was talking about. “No excuses now, Miss Indie Star.” D’oh!

It’s best to think of Not Not like it’s a mini-game from the Brain Age series. It’s basically a multiple-choice version of the Stroop Effect Test that is used to test reaction times of individuals. It’s not to be confused with the Schtoop Effect Test, which measures how long it takes for people to begin fucking when sex is offered. During a traditional Stroop Test, a labcoat with a stopwatch times how long it takes you to state the color the word is written in, which is difficult because the word says a completely different color. In Not Not, you’re placed on a cube and must choose to move up, down, left, right, or do nothing based on the directions given in a relatively short amount of time. There’s multiple tiers of levels that add increasingly more complex or roundabout directions to follow, with three levels of difficulty for each. It sounds fairly straight forward. And it is, until Not Not is not.

In fact, the name of the game comes from the fact that Not Not outright starts to fuck with you the further you progress. At first this comes from commands like “Not Up.” In response, you should move any direction but up. But then the game tells you to Not NOT move up. Meaning you should move up. And yes, it throws in Not NOT NOT commands eventually. If it sounds confusing, it is at first. But really, a decent brain should adjust to this quickly. Two nots = go the direction it says. Three nots = one not = don’t go the direction it says. “Ha, this shit is easy. Suck it, smug ass loser devs, bragging to me that only one person in the entire world beat the mobile version on the hardest difficulty. I’ll show them!”

And then, the directions just go completely into “humble this bitch” territory. Like here, for example.

Right and not Yellow. But wait, you can’t move right, because it’s yellow! Well, the game doesn’t really explain this (or, if it does, I missed it) but if it gives you a contradictory direction, you’re supposed to do nothing at all. It becomes really really confusing when it tells you to do things like to go up and down. Because I was used to the “not (direction)” commands earlier, my brain was wired to instead go left or right when these type of commands came up, resulting in a loss of life. And self-esteem. Seriously, you guys made me feel dumb when I was starting to feel smart. Not cool.

For what it’s worth, Not Not actually is fun. But I think the developers are wasting time targeting game critics with it. They should be sending it off to places that do cognitive testing. I like to go the extra mile so I checked around and found out that a testing kit that includes an instruction guide (like a teacher’s edition of a text-book) and Stroop Test flashcards can cost as much as $500. For a book and some cheap cards! A Nintendo Switch costs $300 and a copy of Not Not will run you $2. Gamers can enjoy it, but really, this belongs to academia.

So I guess that’s the only relevant stuff I have to say. Good day!

Not Not was devel..

Wait a second, missy..

Mom? How did you get into my review? And why are you typing in italics?

You skipped the part where I whooped your ass at the game. Tell them.

Really, I don’t think they’d be interested in hearing th..

TELL THEM!!

I.. uh.. yea she beat me at a few games of Not Not’s multiplayer mode, which is the same as the main game but racing against 2 to 4 players. Just a few. I let her win.

You let me win twenty-seven times?

Well, uh.. happy birthday Mom!

I wish that was a joke for the sake of this review, but she really did beat me 27 times to 0. Not fair! She’s been playing it longer!

It wasn’t my birthday.

But really Mom, I just love you so much that I feel like every day should be your birthday.

Also, you left out that the way you unlock more levels is a little out of whack. You have to beat the medium and hard difficulties of multiple levels to unlock the easiest mode on newer levels. Logically, beating the easiest level should unlock the next stage’s easiest level, and the medium for the next level’s medium, etc, etc.

Wow! Mom, that was actually an insightful point to make. Perhaps the one flaw of the game. And, well, the whole “so unforgivingly difficulty that one person in ten million has beaten the final stage” thing. You might want to rethink what you’re trying to accomplish there, devs.

Yea, that was me.

Um.. the developers told me it was an Italian Judge that beat it.

Well, I do have a life outside you and your father, you know.

……. Moonlighting as an Italian Judge?

Yeah.

And you guys thought your family was weird.

You’re just jealous that you couldn’t beat me.

Am not.

Hey Cathy..

Yes Mom?

GiT GuD!

Brian, I know it was you that taught her that phrase. I’m never blowing you again. Hope it was worth it.

Not Not – A Brain Buster was published by QubicGames
Point of Sale: Switch, iOS, Android

$0.99’s (normally $1.99’s) husband failed the Schtoop Effect in the making of this review.

Not Not is Not Not Chick Approved and Not Not ranked on the Indie Gamer Chick Leaderboard

About Indie Gamer Chick
Indie game reviews and editorials.

2 Responses to Not Not – A Brain Buster

  1. jbevan70 says:

    Great review, and the retrospective/conversation with your mother were a very nice touch.

  2. Matt says:

    Boom Blox for the Nintendo Switch would be great! You are right about how the Joycons are a perfect match for the game. I hadn’t really thought of that!

    Not Not sounds cool, and it is really nice of you to let your mother beat you twenty-seven times. =P

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