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CORTEX CHALLENGE (aka the Brain Game)

Designed by Nicolas Bourgoin & Johan Benevenuto  Published by Captain

Although this game is aimed at 2-6 players it is best played with 3 or 4 unless you have a round table capable of allowing all players an equal opportunity to reach the centre where the cards are played to. The game depends on speed of thought coupled with speed of action as it tests various aspects of your thinking and relating abilities.

It says it is for age group 8+ and this is probably about right, though the 15 minutes for a game is not particularly generous as it can take up to double and perhaps a little more than that.

The game is a series of random puzzles which only one person, the fastest to react, can answer. Speaking of answers, there are none in the game, well none written down anywhere; it is up to the other players to determine if the player taking the test is correct.

The puzzles are on 90 cards that make up the deck. 10 of these are “touch” challenges and are kept separate from the main deck but are brought into play when one of the 6 touch challenge cards is drawn. The backs of each card tell you what type the upcoming challenge is going to be but it isn’t until the card is flipped that the actual challenge becomes visible.

The moment the challenge is seen all players have to think quickly and clearly to solve it, but only the fastest – they who tap (in this game “tap” means cover with a hand – it’s a little confusing but we can soon settle any hassles on this) the face up puzzle first has the chance to answer it. Being correct gains you the card, being wrong knocks you out of the next challenge.

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The idea is to collect cards so that you can make pairs of like challenges (ie challenges from the same puzzle group) which you then swap in for a piece of Brain. The first player to collect four pieces of Brain (there are 4 sets of 6 Brain bits in different colours) is the winner. Note the colour of the Brain pieces are not connected to any particular Challenge type.

The challenge groups are:
MEMORY: – the card shows 5 different objects and you have to remember them. The way this is done isn’t clearly defined. The rules say tap the card and then call out the objects. The way we found best to play was to have the card face up on the table and all players regarding it. When one player touches it (taps it) another player picks it up immediately and keeps it secret from the player who tapped it (ie showing them only the back of the card). Then that player has to call out the 5 objects.

MAZE: -  You view a maze in the fashion of the old game with a ball bearing that you have to get to the out space. In this case you do not have a ball bearing and you do not touch the card unless you tap it. Then you have one attempt to trace (we find it makes sense and doesn’t damage the card if you use something like a cotton bud or a rubber ended iPad tapper) the route out.)

COLOUR:- The card is a jumble of words naming different colours but only one is written in the same colour as itself. So Blue written as Blue would be correct, whereas Blue written as Blue would be wrong.

COORDINATION:- This one gets me every time. The back shows you two hands palm upwards. The Left hand is in Blue and the Right hand is in Red. Both sets of fingers are numbered 1 to 5 from the thumbs. When the card is flipped it shows a face with one or more numbers on it in colour. You have to be the first to tap the card and then place the correct finger or fingers of the correct hand on the positions shown on the card. By the time I’ve remembered which hand is Red and which is Blue this challenge has been completed. Only once I have got it right and then I was so pleased with myself I was too slow to tap the card, oh bother!

DUPLICATES:- This one is a little confusing as the items shown on the card are all different colours, even the two that are the same. Thus they are not exact duplicates. For example there may be 13 animals on a card. A couple of these may be the same colour as a couple of others but, for arguments sake, there is a Blue Rhinoceros and a Green Rhinoceros, these are the “duplicates” you are looking for.

FREQUENCY:- The rules book says “Which side of the dice occurs the most often ....” But it isn’t always dice on the card so really you are looking for which number is duplicated the most.

REASONING:- This card shows a main plan and three pieces, marked A, B & C, that look like they have fallen from a Tetris puzzle. You have to be the first to see and state which part, A, B, or C, would correctly fit/match the empty space.

TOUCH:- When this comes into play, the player who made the last correct challenge takes the “Touch” challenge. The other players select one of the ten raised touch cards and hand it over face down. BY using their sense of touch the player at turn has to feel the card and state which of the textures it is by the name of the picture.


The 10 cards are:
Teddy Bear, Leather, Rope, Wood, Peach, Basketball, Bread, Zebra, Moss and Strawberry. These are on thicker card than the other cards and are wonderfully made. Time may allow your memory to kick in if you have spent pre-game time learning these cards by touch, but so many of them feel like the others that it is never a foregone conclusion or, if in the case of the Basketball, a Slam Dunk!


This is not what you would call a “gamers game” but it is one that gamers will enjoy because of the challenge and competitive aspect. It is a great game to play after dinner (any meal really) when you want to keep your brain active before settling down for the evening’s gaming session.

With 3 or 4 players it is best as it allows for some social chat and giggles as well as competitive game-play, but with 5 or 6 players, even with the table that allows everyone equal access, it gets to be more than a little chaotic and not in a particularly good way. Some of the illustrations aren’t particularly clear, for example I thought one was a Fox because of the Ears, Bushy Tail and colour, whereas closer inspection suggests it could be a Cat or a Cougar or even a Wolf. In cases like this commonsense should occur.


Overall this is a clever, well thought out brain teasing game that should bring you lots of super fun sessions.  CORTEX CHALLENGE plays more than just OK with 2 players, though we found that playing with 3 or 4 players made for a more enjoyable and social game.

Which animal is repeated on this card ?                                  What number appears the most here ?

   A  B  or  C ?  Which completes the above pattern ?

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015