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By HeroOfAvalon
Welcome to the Castle of Dr. Brain, where your mind is the key to every door.

Castle of Dr. Brain is a critically acclaimed, brain-bending game filled with off-beat humor and mind-boggling challenges.

Your problem-solving skills will be stretched to the limits as you try to think your way through a gauntlet of science stampers, mazes, logic problems, codes, and math games on your quest to become Dr. Brains assistant. If you succeed without blowing a mental fuse, you just might be as smart as you think you are.

Castle of Dr. Brain features
Nearly three dozen different types of problems and puzzles.
Novice, medium and expert skill levels, which are changeable during play.
Unfinished games can be saved.
Mouse, keyboard, or joystick controls. No typing.
Gorgeous, full-color animation and stereo soundtrack.

 ~ from the back of the box

Dr. Brain needs a new lab assistant and he thinks you may be up for the job. If you have the moxie, then you’re going to need to prove it. The excentric scientist has filled his residence with multitudes of puzzles. Can you prove your worth and solve all them in The Castle of Dr Brain?!

First released in 1991, with several ports and graphical upgrades coming a year later, The Castle of Dr. Brain by Sierra On-Line was the first in the short-lived series called Sierra Discovery. Although graphically and mechanically similar to other Sierra point and click games at the time, Discovery titles differed in that they had a more education-based slant to them. The original idea came from the game's eventual director,  Corey Cole, who wanted to implement science and technology into adventure games. As such, a number of puzzles have real-world applications. At least, if you're a budding young scientist that is.

The Castle of Dr Brain has no great lore or exposition at the start and you go straight to puzzle solving. At the grand entrance, you are tasked with a simple game of Simon, a memory game where you follow a sequence of lights and sounds. This puzzle sets the scene for what this game is about perfectly. Nicely designed puzzles, with little chaff in between.

Moving past the main door you enter the first corridor of the game. A door before you leads to your next destination, but you require three codes to get through. These can be found in the point-and-click environment around you. Unlike most of Sierra's contemporary output where the AGI and SCI engines of King's Quest or Leisure Suit Larry were popular, you operate in a first-person perspective. This allows the pop-up puzzles to take the centre stage without the clutter of a protagonist or other sprites taking up the screen.

The puzzles in this first area are all math-based and simple enough. There are several difficulty levels, but if you want to be taxed even a little, stay clear from Novice. Anyone with an age in their double-digits could breeze past it. You can raise the difficulty but unfortunately, this does not offer any additional content other than increasing the complexity of the questions. I personally recommend bumping the difficulty up one to give the grey cells something to do. Higher if you want a challenge.

An important note at this juncture is there is some old copy protection in this game disguise as a puzzle. You will need to refer to the Translator Table from the manual to progress. The code words from completing the maths puzzles will correspond to symbols in the manual which will then need to be inputted at the door at the back of the room. This isn't the only time the manual is essential; there is another puzzle later where it will be needed, though skilled puzzlers may get by without it.

Each room or corridor set offer different types of logic puzzles that keep it fresh, such as those relating to time or technology. It also allows for more visual variety. Being a pixel-based game, the graphics of the VGA version still look great. I've always felt sprite-based games have aged far better in comparison to their early 3D counterparts, perhaps due to the ease in which a drawing or a sketch could be implemented into the final design. It was a joy to enter each new area and take in the visuals.

However, there is one gripe in the visual department - repetitiveness. They use the same image from one corridor three times with only a few changes to it. Add to that a number of sequences that every adventure gamer dreads - mazes (which all look the same I might add).  To begin with, these sections were fine. The faux 3D looked interesting and the multi-storied elevator gimmick was a fun one. By the third time, however, it feels like lazy filler.

The only other slight disappointment is in the story department. There is next to no developing story other than the opening premise of which more is explained in the manual than the game opening. This may seem like a harsh critique as although this doesn’t take away from the piece, I personally feel not having a strong narrative throughout stops the elevation from a fun time to a classic of the genre. As such, it feels much more of a puzzle game than an educational adventure.

That said, those are but minor criticisms. Overall, this is a good game. Graphically it looks nice, solving puzzles gives an elated sense of accomplishment and - best of all - it is very fun to play. In my opinion, The Castle of Dr. Brain has stood the test of time. Now turn off your computer and go to sleep.


To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses ScummVM to allow the game to run on modern PCs. Manual included and required for some puzzles. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 25.6 Mb.  Install Size: 50.3 Mb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ






Castle of Dr. Brain is © Sierra On-Line, Inc
Review by HeroOfAvalon
Cover Design and Installer created by me

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