Version tested: DS
You need your eyes tested. Once a day, if Nintendo has anything to do with it. Now our brains have been trained they're out to improve our looks with Face Training, our bodies with Wii Fit and our vision with Sight Training. Who knows what'll come next - blood pressure, lung capacity, vaginal elasticity?
Let's stick to Sight Training for now. Nintendo's not pretending it will actually improve your eyesight. It's about developing your "focus ability", which is how good you are at seeing moving objects, taking in different bits of information at once, seeing over a wide area, moving your eyes quickly and hand-eye co-ordination.
They're not just making it up. Sight Training is endorsed by Hisao Ishigaki, a professor of management and information science at the Aichi Institute of Technology. Underneath his picture in the manual, it says he is considered a leader in the field of "Visual Training" practiced by professional athletes. In the picture, he is wearing glasses.
Professor Ishigaki is shyer than Brain Training's Dr Kawashima and doesn't appear in the game itself, but otherwise the set-up is very similar. You perform a short set of exercises each day and your progress is tracked via graphs and a calendar. Every time you do your daily training you're rewarded with a stamp and, for the first couple of weeks at least, a new exercise. Each day you can take a special test to determine your Eye Age and the game will tell you which aspects of your focus ability you need to work on.
Game and watch
This all falls down on one crucial point: the exercises are incredibly dull. Take Box Track, which is designed to test Dynamic Visual Acuity or DVA (that's definitely one D). A small grey box drops over a small green circle. It switches around at pace with two other small grey boxes. You must guess where the small green circle is. You must do this again and again and again.
Then there's Middle Match. A small yellow symbol appears in the middle of the screen. Lots of other small yellow symbols flash up for a split second. You must touch the place where the identical one was. Again and again and again.
In Number Flash, you have to observe and repeat short sequences of numbers. In Letter Count, you have to count the number of times a certain letter appears on screen. In Count, you have to count other things which are not letters. Again. And again. And again.
There are some other exercises but none are exciting. Hardly any of them feel like they're stretching your visual abilities, but more as if they're testing your memory or reaction times. Take, for example, Box Tap, where small red blocks appear on the screen and you have to tap each one with the stylus. It's really just a question of how fast you can move the stylus around the screen. Everything looks boring too, all black backgrounds and tiny neon things. It's what WarioWare would be like if it had originally appeared on the BBC Acorn.
In a bid to make things more interesting they've included another set of exercises based on different sports. The bid has failed. The exercises are rubbish.
In Boxing, you have to tap your trainer's gloves as he raises them and occasionally draw a line on the screen to defend yourself. This is almost fun the first time you have a go. It's not by the fourth. Table Tennis sees you moving a bat with the stylus to hit back the ball being pinged across the table. There's no scoring and your opponent never misses the ball so it's just endless, tedious, pointless rallying.
Some of the sports exercises don't really relate to the sport they're based on. Such as Basketball - some men in red outfits and some men in white outfits appear on the screen. They're silhouetted out and you have to tap on the ones who were in white. There's no sign of an actual ball, let alone a basket. They might as well have made the game about different coloured bananas.
There are other sports exercises (soccer, American football, baseball, volleyball) but again, nothing is remotely addictive or fun to play. They're all far too simplistic.
Like Brain Training, Sight Training won't let you perform exercises to unlock stuff more than once a day. You can do Eye Age checks based on the same old exercises and play unlocked ones over and over again, but you won't want to. So you're looking at ten minutes of play per day, max. At least Brain Training has Sudoku to keep you entertained once the work is done.
In short, Sight Training is no fun. There's not enough to do and what there is to do is tedious. It's hard to believe it improves your visual abilities any more than eating carrots makes you see in the dark. There may be a budget price tag of GBP 20 attached, but you're getting nothing more than a small collection of dull mini-games. That might be good enough for Julie Walters and Jean-Luc Picard but it's not good enough for us.
3 / 10