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Brain Training: How Old is Your Brain? [Europe] (Nintendo DS) Review

The Touch! Generations brand is Nintendo's latest attempt to appeal to the non-gamer, and Brain Training is the title that is set to spearhead the attack on the unsuspecting people of Europe when it launches on Friday 9th June. Simply put, this game made us think more than any other. Annoyingly, the game feels all too much like the English school CAT test or even those irritating IQ tests that still occasionally arrive in our Inbox. Put simply, we don't like maths. This shouldn't be a major stumbling block when it comes to reviewing Brain Training, but when a videogame asks us our times tables we start to get irritated...

The dismembered head of Ryuta Kawashima is your guide through this educational masterpiece. The smiling, bobbing virtual head of the Japanese doctor sets you a number of different puzzles based on different aspects of mental exercise. By the time you've played this game for a few days you will know all about prefrontal cortex and how to activate it...sounds fun, doesn't it? Admittedly, Brain Training does push our definition of a videogame, but it is still damn good fun.

You start off with a small number of puzzles to solve, and the better you do and the more you play the more activities you will unlock. The aim of the game is to get the age of your brain down to the optimum of twenty years. This is easier said than done, and having a disembodied, blocky head tell you that you have the mind of a seventy-year-old is encouragement enough to keep on playing in an attempt to prove to the aforementioned head that you are actually a very clever person. Indeed, the human obsession of always wanting to complete a task and prove someone wrong is really played upon by this game. We know we're clever people, but until Dr. Kawashima says so, we won't be happy. Tragic, we know...

The game starts off asking for your name (which you write in), your date of birth and whether you are right or left handed. Then you are asked to do a quick test to determine your approximate brain age. Once that is done, it is your obligation to prove the videogame wrong and make it realise you are an intelligent person, and don't have the brain of a senile idiot. Hating maths, we immediately went for the more word and visual based puzzles, but that doesn't mean that we didn't enjoy the number-centric activities. There are a huge variety exercises to attempt: Calculation x 20, Reading Aloud, Low To High, Number Cruncher, Head Count, Triangle Math and Time Lapse to list just a few. Each one makes you think in a different way and involves memory, speed of mind and your ability to solve simple and complex problems. In one activity, you are asked to remember a list of words that you see for only a short time; you then have to physically write those words down before the timer runs out. It is a painfully difficult task at first, but the more you play, the better you get. In another, you have to read out the colour of words that appear (Red, Black, Blue Yellow), problem is, that the word Yellow will appear coloured Red and you have to say Red and not Yellow. Trust us, it is bloody difficult.

Unlike epic RPG titles or adventure games, this is a title that is only ever meant to be played in short bursts. Playing Brain Training for an epic five hours solid would probably make you either suicidal or very bored, but that is the beauty of the software. It is a game to enjoy and use in moderation, like a fifteen-minute fitness video starring Mr. Motivator. Admittedly, we're not the target audience for this game. We're not old, we play games and we know who Nintendo are, so the secret is already out for us. This is a game that is meant to be played whilst you commute to work, or whilst you wait for everyone to turn up to the local church hall for tea, biscuits and line-dancing. Whilst we're more than happy to drink tea and eat biscuits, we are not to be found line-dancing with a load of pensioners...

In terms of gameplay (if we can even call it that), Brain Training is pretty solid. It recognises even the scruffiest of handwriting (it only got confused a few times with out writing, which is impressive) and will pick up your voice really accurately (although you have to be in a quiet place, with no wind and hold the console the right distance from you). Aside from that, the touchscreen implementation is perhaps some of the most innovative and oft used we have seen to date. All the activities make use of the innovative aspects of the DS hardware and furthermore, they make good use of it.

The game comes with Quick Play, Daily Training, Sudoku and Download gameplay options. The first option is basically for your friends and family to have a go at, or yourself if you fancy some practice without mucking up your own precious file in Daily Training mode. Sudoku does exactly what it says on the tin, so fans of the irritating newspaper craze will no doubt be happy. The only problem with it being on the DS is you can't scrawl about so much, you HAVE to be sure of it, and for some reason solving Sudoku puzzles on the DS is a lot more difficult than doing it on the back of The Times. In Daily Training, your progress is tracked on a graph (exciting stuff...), so you can see how you improve in each of the tasks. The idea is you attempt as many of the tasks possible each day, and look to improve in each task over time. Your reward? That little line on the graph goes up a bit, wow!

When you consider that this game only needs to be played for ten to fifteen minutes each day (anything more than that is overkill), it does make for an entertaining thing to do whilst waiting for a bus, sitting on the underground, waiting for your hip to slip back into place, waiting for Bingo to start or even whilst your opponent is taking forever to make their next move in Scrabble or even waiting for the feeling to come back in your feet. Yes, we jest, but in all honesty this game is not for the young, it is for the old. It's being advertised during Coronation Street for crying out loud!

Gameplay

Excellent stuff. The game makes great use of the touchscreen and microphone functionality and everything is really well done. All the tasks are really well put together and the whole experience is hugely compelling and addictive. Trust us, you will want to improve your brain score and you'll keep on coming back for more, day after day.

Graphics

Obviously the graphics are fairly simple (how fancy can you make a load of numbers and letters?), but the whole game is well presented and nice to look at.

Sound

Solid, but never spectacular. It plinks and plonks along in a computer-processing/countdown-timer-ticking sort of fashion, but in all honesty it does get annoying. All the relevant 'tick' and 'cross' noises are in there too. Nice enough, but nothing special.

Value

Considering you're getting months of brain training fun for the price of a normal game, this is pretty damn good value. However, when you add in the fact that you're only ever going to play it for a few minutes everyday and that it makes you learn when you do, and it starts to lose points. But hey, exercising your mind muscles can only be a good thing!

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

One of the most difficult games we've ever had to review, but one of the most interesting too. The perfect title to spearhead the Touch! Generations brand, this is an innovative and fun application that not only educates, but entertains too. The tasks are hugely addictive, and with download play to battle against your friends, this game is packed full of things to do every single day. Not to everyone's tastes, but kudos to Nintendo for trying something totally different and pulling it off. With a retail price of just

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 Buy Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? (Nintendo DS) Buy Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? (Nintendo DS)

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18.06.2006

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Also known as

Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Educational

Players

16

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (6 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Nice review, ill be looking foward to picking up a copy tomorrow.

Is it me or does that guy look like JB....

Hello!

I'll be all over this one, I am into this whole "touch generations" bit.

Electroplankton is fantastic, Tetris DS is fantastic, and this will be the next DS game I get.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'm hoping Nintendo's tactic of delaying Electroplankton until 4th July to coincide more with the DS Lite launch works out...

Nice work James :Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I'd love to see it do well, but it doesn't strike me that the average person here in the UK will look at it and go "Ooh, relaxing music-based non-game" and take it for what it is, almost artistic, rather than dismissing it as "Boring" and ignoring it forever.

Incidentally, Electoplankton is programmed for surround sound, so plugging it into my home theatre system and leaving it on audience mode is fantastic.

Great review.

I've only done the intro and tried my hand at a bit of sudoku, but it seems very nice and polished so far. I'm looking forward to giving it a proper go tomorrow (not allowed until I see Vikki then!).

Yeah, this game is great, got my US import a few weeks ago and played it religiously, I managed to maintain a Brain Age averaging 23ish, unfortunately, yesterday I think I played my last turn, it was fun while it lasted, and I will be trying more in the edutainment series, however, the novelty has worn off now, and I think I'm gonna be concentrating on New Super Mario Bros, World 6, to quote a fat Italian plumber, "Here we gooooooooo!"

Video Game Addicts - http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060608/ap_on_he_me/video_game_detox

I just played the demo I got with the Lite, the one I played was annoying! The mic couldn't pick my voice to say Yellow or Blue etc.

BOWSER HAS RESET MY STARS TO ZERO FOR INSULTING TEH SYSTEM!

I really like this, I seem to be addicted to it! I've never played a sudoku grid in my life, but with it being on this it makes it easy, and I can complete them, yay!

I have problems too with the voice recognition, it cant understand when I say 'blue', but if i go 'boo' it understands...

Co-founder of the PDSLB - Pink DS Lite Buddies Fraz: Cheerios are made from fairy orgasms.

^
This is true, I cracked it by saying 'scooby doo', which the game seems to accept with open arms. Go figure.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I've had no trouble with the speech aspect, but the amount of times I've been screwed in Sudoku or the fast calculations due to bad writing recognition is ridiculous. 2s and 4s, plus 1s and 7s are the annoying ones for me, for some reason.

Anyway, I'm nearly at the end of my first weekly diary for the game. Expect it up on Sunday night :Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

It always recognises my handwriting, always.

*I said BLUE!*

Ordered it off amazon the other day- should arrive soon :Smilie

I'm sure it'll be worth the cash!

Now on twitter, predicting celebrity death headlines! @thedaytheydie

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