We were recently given the opportunity to review the new anime-inspired RPG Big Eyes, Small Brain, (NOT to be confused with a previous anime-inspired RPG Big Eyes, Small Mouth, or BESM). It currently has a Kickstarter open here. The game is designed by a company known for its satirical pocket RPG’s, Attention Span Games. They have created other games such as Laser Metal and DnDizzle.
We tested it out for a quick session, which is exactly how the game is designed to be played, to try out characters, combat and just get a feel for the game. The campaigns are referred to as ‘episodes’ and run very quickly. The rules are very easy to grasp and character creation is incredibly painless. It is simple for a group of 4-5 people to sit down and start playing the game. There are six classes, including Heroes, Combat Maids/Butlers, Senshi, Idols, and Androids. They are really broken down by type of anime and you can select a character based on the genre of anime you enjoy watching, which is really half the fun of this game.
Because the game only has 4 stats, building your character and leveling them up is very straightforward, without a lot of the nuance that some of the more complex RPG’s have. This is an asset is setting up a game quickly or if you are unfamiliar with designing a character for RPG’s. If you really enjoy some of that more subtle modulation, you may be disappointed when designing a character for Big Eyes, Small Brain. We played as an android, Idol, and Ayakashi, which fit the types of anime that we enjoy as fans. We really enjoyed the different characters, as well as the skills and weapons that fit each class. For example, the Idol had Hypersonic Tune as a special, and her weapon was a hairbrush microphone (Yoseijira played the Idol.) It was really fun to see how the specials and weapons lined up with classes. Graham played as an android and he really enjoyed that the android is described as ‘upgrading’ when becoming more powerful. Darkpixxi wound up as Ayakashi which she enjoyed, although she didn’t enjoy being a healer quite as much. Just something to note when choosing a class. However, because the game is designed for one off and quick campaign play, you also aren’t stuck playing a character you don’t enjoy for very long. Just something to note about making sure your super fun class reconciles with how you like to play.
One of the things that definitely makes this game easier to pick up than many is that everything is decided by standard D6 dice, so you don’t have to invest in a set of more expensive dice and you won’t need an extensive number either. The world that the creators have built has a plethora of references from pretty much every genre you can think of, and definitely references many of the ones that have become classics in the U.S. The game references idols, mecha, schools, maids and many more. Additionally, the world, Abika, is clearly an ode to Tokyo’s own anime playground, Akihabara. Many of the tropes that we both love and hate in anime are parodied in the game. Indeed, one of the levels of enemy is even called ‘weeb’. It is definitely a self-referential, niche parody game, but that is also the biggest reason to love it.
This quick and easy game is perfect for conventions. With its fast setup and straight forward rules, it’s a great way to spend your time at an anime convention between panels, or even after the dealer hall has closed for the day. Due to its nature, those who prefer a more complicated rule set or gameplay may find this a bit lacking. Also, Yoseijira was slightly annoyed by the colloquial and relaxed style of the rulebook and guide, but that is due more to her preferences, and not a fault with the game as it fits the relaxed nature of Big Eyes, Small Brain.
You will most likely see us playing this at conventions in this future.
If you would like to support this game the Kickstarter is active here.