When I heard about the release of the NintendoDS I was ecstatic. Finally, a newer system than my Gameboy Advance hand held device was available! I could not wait to see what new games I could play. Being a puzzle junkie, my first game purchase was Brain Age.
The game starts with an introduction by Dr. Ryuta Kawashima and easily walks you through setting up a player profile, complete with your own signature to claim it as yours. Next, you take a series of tests to determine your ‘brain age’ – supposedly how old your brain is acting. Twenty years old is the best age that you can get and supposedly the ideal age to strive for. I sadly took an age of 46 despite being only 21 at the time.
Not to be defeated so easily by a little game, I promptly set out to exercising my poorly underused brain. The games, or shall I call them practices, did not seem challenging as I looked them over. A rundown of the games I encountered were:
Calculations x 20 and x 100 – A list of simple arithmetic equations including addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems with numbers ranging from zero to ten.
Reading Aloud – Literally reading a small story passage aloud while being timed. (Unfortunately, this test is very easy to cheat at as it can not tell when you are actually reading)
Low to High – A simple number game where you are presented with four to ten numbers arranged a certain way. You have to recall how they were arranged from lowest to highest.
Syllable Count – You are presented with a sentence and have to write how many syllables it contains as quickly as possible.
You receive a stamp for every day that you complete three or more practice games. The carrot to this exercise is that more games are opened the more days you ‘practice’ based on how many stamps you receive.
Is it a game for children or adults? Despite the game’s ‘E’ rating, I was reluctant to think that my nine year old niece would enjoy playing it. Especially after I had such trouble with some of the games. Here I am, a college educated twenty-something and I can not even get all my numbers ordered from lowest to highest. Of course she protested, and I eventually caved in. She found great joy in the game. I was amazed at how easily she grasped the instructions and was able to complete the simple arithmetic games.
The graphics are adequate, the only annoying part is when you first turn on the game and the doctor either greets or chides you depending on when your last ‘visit’ was, and it is moderately fun.
The only downfall is that the games tend to get boring very quickly and the only redeeming quality of Brain Age is the SuDoKu puzzles. It includes three levels: beginning, intermediate, and advance. Each of which includes about 30 puzzles that can be played over and over again to beat previous scores.
Ultimately, it is a neat game and I am definitely glad that it is a part of my collection – even if it is months between times that I play it.