Brain Quest Blast Off for iPhone

If you have a child in elementary school, you're probably familiar with : it is most visible in the children's book sections of bookstores, in the spot reserved for educational items that aren't quite books but aren't quite toys, either. In physical form, Brain Quest is a deck of attached cards. The long, thin cards have questions on the front and answers on the back. There's no "object" to flipping through the cards and tossing questions to your kids, except to interact and learn and think. You don't score points. You either get the question right or wrong, and then you move on. Simple, but deceptively fun and addictive.

While the Brain Quest decks edge closer to the "Edu" side of the "edutainment" equation, the iPhone games based on this question-answer format fall closer to the "tainment" side.

has created iPhone versions of games for grades 2 through 7; both me and my 8-year-old daughter spent time playing the versions for and . A brief attempt at the version sputtered, as my daughter, who's in grade 3, had no tolerance for the lopsided number of wrong to right answers she got at that level.

She enjoyed playing the Grade 2 version the most, because it was a game she could easily win, and despite the educational virtues of these games--they are about knowledge and problem solving--the object is to score points, beat the clock, and move up levels. She considered the Grade 3 version just "OK," which meant when she had the iPod touch in her hand, she wanted the fast positive feedback you get when you answer correctly and win. Getting wrong answers--and taking longer to puzzle over the ones she eventually answered correctly--didn't provide the same rush.

Such is life. But she thought she was playing a video game.

Each version of Brain Quest Blast Off includes a variety of subjects: math, language arts, social studies, and science and "grab bag" are included in the Grades 2 and 3 versions. Each also provides a variety of question/answer formats: multiple choice, word scramble, fill-in-the-blanks, and true/false, for example. You must complete each subject in each round before you can progress to the next round, which means that "winning" the game takes a lot of time.