Some time ago we reviewed Cortex, a quick and simple game whereby you try to figure out the solutions to some challenges that are set out on cards that get turned over one by one. It was good fun, with plenty of challenges being suitable for a huge range of players (in fact my 4 year old at the time loved it) and while it wouldn’t keep anyone occupied for hours on end, it was a great game to travel with thanks to its small size, and one to break out when you only had 15 minutes to fill and wanted something quick and easy.
So with Cortex Challenge 2 we have another big pile of cards with their own challenges on, some new and some returning from the previous game. Mazes are still here, as are the admittedly cool texture based cads which have you blindly feeling a texture to try and work out whether it’s a melon, zebra or whatever, but along with those come some new ideas.
One challenge takes its inspiration from Connect 4, asking you to try and spot where on the grid of coloured bottle tops there’s a line of 4 in a row. There’s a slightly trickier new game where you need to find the odd one out, be that the only picture that doesn’t have a matching colour or the only picture that doesn’t have a match on the card, and one which tries to get you doing two things at once by holding up different numbers of fingers on each hand depending on two separate images on the card. In addition to these there’s one to find a faulty robot in a grid of several, with one of them missing a head, arm or leaking oil. None of them are overly tough, but then that’s not the point of Cortex 2.
From a few things I’ve read about the original Cortex game, people weren’t happy that the challenges were quite easy, that it was too quick to figure out some of the cards. But that’s the point. You don’t want something that only one person in the group would figure out, the whole idea here is that everyone will get it, but it’s getting it faster than everyone else. There’s a mild panic around the table and people slamming their hand down onto the card with such energy you half expect it to go through the table and back out the other side. So yeah, they’re not too tough, but that’s what makes the game more frantic and enjoyable.
In terms of whether you should pick it up if you already have Cortex, that’s a tricky one. There are a lot of similar cards, but there’s also a lot of new challenges too, and as you can mix them up (in fact it even suggests in the box that you do that if you’ve got both) it’ll leave you with a massive collection of cards, loads of different challenges to attack and a lot of sessions of fun to have with pretty much anyone you like. Given that it’s so cheap as well, you’d be pretty silly to ignore it if you’re into this kind of game.