screenshot from "PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient"
AP /D3Publisher of America
This image from the video game "PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient" depicts one of the more than 100 levels where players solve puzzles to test their PQ, or practical intelligence.
By AP Technology Writer
updated 1/31/2006 6:51:55 PM ET 2006-01-31T23:51:55

There are people with book smarts and those with street smarts. But video game smarts?

"PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient" (Rated E, $29.99) is a new game for the PlayStation Portable that touts itself as an alternative to the written IQ test.

"PQ" may just do for the Mensa crowd what "Quake" did for adrenaline junkies.

It's an interesting premise based on the research of Masuo Koyasu, a Kyoto University psychology professor who believes our brains possess seven "independently functioning units of intelligence rather than one single unit."

I'm not quite sure what that means, but I may be a unit or two short based on my performance in "PQ."

Playing is akin to taking a final exam sans the paper and No. 2 pencil.

Each "question" (there are 100 in all) is a level of the game involving a maze loaded with obstacles.

You guide your avatar across a 3-D grid, stacking boxes, riding escalators and flipping door switches to get from the starting point to the goal within a set period of time, usually no more than a few minutes.

Some puzzles were confounding, others were rather simple. You only get a set number of moves to get a decent score.

Even on the hard levels, I often found myself in one of those "Well duh!" moments after coming up with a solution, wondering why I hadn't immediately thought of it.

It took mere seconds to snoop around roving blue, flashlight-wielding guards without getting caught.

I somehow memorized a pattern of flashing arrows and then walked through an invisible maze.

But almost all the puzzles that involved moving large blocks around a maze gave me serious problems. For the mathematically inclined, there are levels where you have to rearrange the correct number and amount of weights to open a door.

The difficulty increases exponentially toward the end, when many of these individual obstacles combine in brain-dizzying ways.

The pulsating, redundant techno music only added to my frustration.

I was annoyed with the flaky controls. Hand-eye coordination shouldn't factor into my PQ, yet it was far too easy to overstep and walk into a laser beam or turn the wrong way, wasting precious time.

On a traditional written test, you can at least see the problem before you. But in "PQ," it's often impossible to see the entire level.

Once you finish the game, there's not much reason to return.

Test results include a sliding personality scale ranging from "Pondering Type" to "Action Type."

You can also post your "PQ" score online and compare your score with others around the world, but that's about it. I, for one, am not telling anyone how average I am.

This lack of any replay value is perhaps the biggest shortcoming of a game that's otherwise good fun and good for your brain.

Two and a half stars out of four.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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