Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! Reader Review
Nintendo’s “New Ways To Play” slogan can be attached to a number of games. The latest addition to that ’family’ is a rather curious game, in that it can’t really be described as a game, but calls upon some of the skills that have been learnt through gaming. Confusing? Yes, but in practice it is a different story…
Upon switching the game on, you notice that you have to hold the DS in a way that is different from all other software available for the system (I’ll call it software as there are many ‘non-games’ on the system ) in this piece of software, you hold the DS on it’s side, as if you are reading a book. It isn’t too clear as to why you have to do this, but it seems to be more of a gimmick than a practical inclusion - all it really does is give the impression that you’re writing into a book. It is a nice touch, though. You are then taken to a menu screen and encounter the disembodied head of Dr Kawashima - a leading scientist in the field of neurology in Japan- Kawashima begins to tell you about his studies, and the discoveries that he has made about the effects of keeping an active brain. His real life research has been adapted so that people can participate in keeping their brain active, but at the same time, having fun. Or so that is the theory…
Brain Training has been heavily advertised towards an adult audience, with adverts being placed in newspapers and soaps. It is clear that this ‘game’ has been solely developed for that audience. If a gamer picks this game up, they will have little fun with it. If an adult who does not play games picks this up, the complete opposite effect will occur. It is a huge flaw in the game, and really put me off of it.
While it may not be designed with the ‘hardcore gamer’ in mind, many of the skills that games have taught me over many years of gaming come in pretty useful in this title. Lightning reactions are needed, as well as a good memory - both skills which have been helped by gaming. You put your skills into practice in a series of minigames. Sound familiar? While the game may sound like Wario Ware, it plays nothing like it in . The minigames just aren’t as addictive, nor are they as much fun. Calculations X20, for example, consists of twenty simple mathematical problems, but they are presented in such a way that each question induces panic - what makes it even more worse is the embarrassment factor, particularly when you can’t remember what eight times three is. To be honest, the minigames are fun the first time, and in some cases, the second and third times, but after that they lose all appeal.
While playing the minigames on their own is pretty boring, the game does become slightly more enjoyable when played on Brain Check mode. This mode -as the name implies- checks the status of your brain. Doesn’t sound too exciting, does it? But the ‘game’ has an ace up it’s sleeve. It will monitor your progress daily and will calculate your ‘brain age‘. This is the most enjoyable part of the game. It becomes even better if you have friends who own a copy of the game and you can compare results - and find out who the fool of the group is. The ideal ‘brain age’ is twenty, but you won’t receive anywhere near that on your first day of training. I got a rather disappointing age of sixty-two on my first day of training, although, on my second day, I had reduced this to a slightly better forty-three. It wont take too long to reduce your ‘brain age’ to the target of twenty, which is yet another are in which the game disappoints in - length.
The game will last you a week at the most, even though the ‘game’ could potentially last for months, but only if you enjoy the overall experience, which is highly unlikely if you are a gamer. Overall, Brain Training brings something new to the industry, but it just doesn’t appeal to anyone outside it’s target audience - unlike many other Nintendo games. I really do wonder why the game has phenomenal success in Japan, when it doesn’t play well and is highly repetitive. Although, the game has attracted many new gamers - which is a great achievement in itself.
7 / 10