I decided not to rush with my review of "Brain Age: Train your brain in minutes a day!" A lot of media outlets did a cursory look at the game, threw up a review, and moved on to a new one. We did something a little different here at U-Wire, we took a test subject, me, and put the game to work. Do the tests really improve your "Brain Age?" Do you have noticeable improvements in mental functions from using the game? How many syllables are in the phrase, "Thank you Mario, but the Princess is in another castle?"
In 1994, Rykta Kawashima wrote a book entitled, "Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a better brain." The book met with some success in Japan, and garnered the attention of Nintendo, who reportedly was looking for an educational title to release with the DS. In the game, a polygon version of Kawashima guides you as you do your daily training or play Sudoku. The doctor is an interesting MC of sorts that livens up the game with Yoda like advice after each exercise. You can also get him to glare at you or laugh out loud by talking into the DS's microphone. And if you missed some of Kawashima's saint like advice, each tidbit is saved in the options menu for later viewing.
At first I thought "Brain Age" would be a burden to add to my day-to-day activities. The thought of having to play a game every day for a possible pay-off was not appealing. But now I can't go a day without picking it up and doing some training. And that is the beauty of "Brain Age." It doesn't require a time commitment, and you can pick how much time you want to spend playing it. This game also has you covered both ways, if you like instant gratification, you can try to top the best record in an exercise, or if you stick with it for the long haul, you can chart your progress on graphs and open up new features such as Triangle Math, Voice Calculations, and Time Lapse.
I do have some complaints about "Brain Age" that would normally prevent me from purchasing a game like this. During the Stroop Test and Voice Calculation, despite you saying the correct word, the system's microphone does not always hear you. This is frustrating if you're highly competitive and don't like to get wrong answers for something you did right. If you have poor handwriting, sometimes the game will record something you entered as wrong, or not record it at all, which is very damaging when all of your activities are timed. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to toss my DS during Word Memory, when I tried to enter words but the system wouldn't understand my handwriting.
These annoyances can be over come. You can skip word memory by holding select at the "Brain Age" test menu, and if you limit the noise around you and speak clearly, the system is more likely to record the correct answer when you speak. I would suggest sticking with "Brain Age." I've noticed an improvement in my handwriting since using "Brain Age," and I've observed my brain age drop from seventy to a twenty-three over one month of training. While some scientists have issued reports attempting to disprove Kawashima's studies, I believe that regular use of Brain Age has kept me sharp over what has been a lazy summer vacation. For example, I've always been horrible with telling people how many syllabus were in a phrase, but now I nail that specific exercise every time after a month of training. While geared for non-gaming adults, Brain Age is great fun and engaging for everyone despite some of its flaws. If you're looking for a gift for your family, or a going back to school present, "Brain Age" comes highly recommended