E (Everyone)Release Date:
April 16, 2006Written By:
Brushing teeth, eating lunch, and sleeping, are all daily activities a person does in a typical day. Get ready to add another daily activity with Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!. It simply must be played regularly if one hopes to achieve the game’s full potential. Although it is arguable whether Brain Age is really a game or not, this review will still refer to it as a game to keep things simple and easy.
Apparently, the brain functions exactly the way a body does. One must train and exercise daily and regularly if they hope to keep their body in good shape. The brain must also be trained and exercised daily in order to keep it in good condition just like the body, according to creator Dr. Kawashima. He is the central character in this game if there is one, as he guides the player throughout their training.
Turning the Nintendo DS sideways is the way to play Brain Age, and depending on which hand the player writes with, the DS will either to turned sideways to the left or to the right. Touch screen is used to write in answers, while the other is the problem to solve or Dr. Fawashima’s floating head!
Exercises such as doing simple math problems, reading aloud, or counting syllables all activate the “prefrontal cortex.” These are all training exercises that were meant to work different parts of the brain. The meat and potatoes of Brain Age, however, is the Brain Age Check, where players will have to perform three simple tests such as the Stroop Test and Number Cruncher. And once everything is said and done, the doctor will calculate the player’s brain age based on how well and how quickly the three tests were completed.
As the title suggests, Brain Age is meant to be played everyday for just a few minutes. One can choose to complete the daily Brain Age Check and also a few training exercises each day, all of which should take no more than 20 minutes. After a player finishes all the daily activities and records their results, there is really nothing left to do for the day. The doctor will only record one result a day, and anymore after will not be considered. Therefore, Brain Age encourages someone to play just a little everyday.
stamp is rewarded everyday for completing a minimum of one training activity. Only one stamp can be obtained each day, so unlocking everything in the game does take a few weeks as new training programs are added depending on the amount of stamps. Unlocking new activities requires no skill, as all a player has to do is just play a training exercise and results don’t matter. This backs up the idea that Brain Age is for everyone regardless of age or skill level.
One extra activity other than brain training exercises is the Sudoku puzzles, which can also train the brain. These puzzles basically have nine square grids, with separate squares within each individual square. The goal is simply to come up with numbers 1-9 that satisfy the requirements, which is to have at most one unique number on every horizontal row, every vertical row, and in every square.
Perhaps the most satisfying and helpful part of Brain Age is how there are graphs to show how a player has progressed day to day. Nothing is more satisfying than for someone to realize they have achieved significant improvement on their brain age from a few weeks ago or the fact their math calculation skills have seen progression.
Keeping track of high scores is the formula that has been used many times to keep players coming back for more, and it has never worked better in Brain Age. Players will return every so often hoping they can improve upon their best result. And the way the game only records one result per day of each exercise, players will always be refreshed when trying again.
Every so often, the doctor may asked the player some questions such as what they ate for breakfast. This question would appear again a few days later and then players would be forced to backtrack a few day’s events. It is great how these things pop up from time to time and makes the game unique on various days, but the sad part is that there are just two or three different questions the doctor would ask, which is most definitely not enough.
The graphics are nothing special, but they get the job done. The most detailed model would be Dr. Kawashima’s floating head, with him having all kinds of expressions being usually fun to watch. The menus are simple and nothing fancy, which may not please everyone, but definitely will not frustrate them. Problems to solve couldn’t have been made too flashy or else they would get distracting. Brain Age is not eye appealing at all, and simply was never meant to be.
Sound and music is of better quality than the graphics in Brain Age, but that is not going to say sound or music is impressive. Other than the fun tunes that play whenever the player is browsing the main menu, the game is almost always completely silent. The doctor said it himself in one of his “tips,” that one must focus on one single activity for the brain to be efficient. The brain training exercises are more than enough for the brain to handle, so adding background music would only be a nuisance and ultimately affect the player’s score in a bad way.
Sounds and effects are also scare, as once again they aren’t really needed in a game like Brain Age. The scribbling sound whenever someone writes on the touch screen and the sound of a right or wrong answer are a couple of sounds a player would hear. Depending on how well a player does on a training activity, they would receive ratings such as walking speed or jet speed, which all have their neat sounds. Sound effects were added in areas that were needed, but thankfully not included in areas that never required them in the first place.
Controls in Brain Age are what a regular person does often, which is writing numbers and words! Sure, the stylus is not exactly a replica of a pencil or pen, but in Brain Age all a player basically does is write in numbers or words onto the touch screen. Although the game is usually able to read everything, sometimes the game does misinterpret various letters or numbers, eventually using up some valuable seconds. The microphone also has its issues, but often interprets just fine.
A few minutes everyday for a few months does add up to lots of hours, meaning Brain Age has quite a bit of replay value. Players have already experienced a good chunk of Brain Age just playing for as little as one hour, but one must do regular training exercises and a Brain Age Check daily in order to get the most out of Brain Age. Playing Brain Age does help the brain if one were to play for months, with a few minutes each day. And especially in the morning, where Brain Age can fire up one’s brain for the rest of the day having it working at its best. Not to mention all the Sudoku puzzles included, Brain Age has lots of replay value.
Very few would believe solving math problems and counting syllables would spark even just a bit of entertainment before trying Brain Age, but once someone does try it for the first time they very well may find themselves surprised at how fun it actually is and how it far exceeds any sort of expectations. Whether it is the satisfying sound whenever an answer is correct, or to see how much they have improved, or even the fact they could achieve a solid brain age score, the game can shine. The satisfaction of realizing how fast they could do 20 math problems is a type of satisfaction no other game can provide.
Although Brain Age is not like doing a chore and could be fun at times, it simply pales in comparison to the level of entertainment just an average videogame can provide. Solving math problems can only be so fun, that no one would want to do each exercise more than once a day as it is straight out boring afterwards. Most training programs seem way too long and by the time a player is at math problem number 80 of a total of 100 problems for instance, the player will be sick and tired of it by the time they are done.
Don’t count on the Sudoku puzzles to provide much fun either, as they take too long and are unexciting. Since Sudoku puzzles were exempt from the Japanese version, however, seeing them as more of a bonus is the best way to look at it.
Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes a Day! provides a different type of satisfaction than a regular videogame would. It helps anyone get their brain to work at the very best it can, and on top of that it will not bore the player in the process as twenty minutes a day is all that’s needed. It’s a perfect match between enjoying a few minutes of spare time and helping one’s brain. Brain Age is not extremely fun and entertaining as expected of a videogame, but it can be just as rewarding. What Brain Age sets out to do, it does well.7.5/
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