"Your brain needs more food!" - Dr. Kawashima
Not being that big a fan of edutainment, I didn't know how I was going to feel about Nintendo's Brain Age. I've had a mixed bag of reactions to Nintendo's other non-games, ranging from utter boredom with Animal Crossing to mild curiosity with Electroplankton. So going into a title designed to stimulate my mental muscle, I was pretty cautious. After making my profile and taking the obligatory introduction "brain age test," and seeing that I was over 50, my ego was pretty bruised. But because I was determined to improve, I haven't missed a day of training yet, and I think that's the purpose.
Brain Training is based on famed Japanese neurologist Ryuta Kawashima's mental fitness program, and it puts you through a series of short challenges designed to get your mind running, ranging from doing 20 quick arithmetic problems to seeing how fast you can read classic literature. Monitoring your progress every day, the polygonal disembodied head of Ryuta Kawashima (quite a sight to see, really) makes sure to spell out whether you're working hard or being lazy, and he motivates you to completing every challenge every day. His quips, combined with the speed-oriented exercises, make Brain Age really fun.
Unfortunately, there are only nine challenges in all (unlocked over time), and even though they're altered every day, this isn't the kind of game you'll be playing for hours a day; you probably won't even get to sixty minutes. Once you finish your training, the game's got nothing new to offer you until the next day.
Luckily, outside the main game are a plethora of Sudoku puzzles that Nintendo included for the English localization; Sudoku is that numerical brain-teaser that America seems to be obsessed with. I tried them out, and although it's not really my cup of tea, anyone with a fascination for the game (and I know many) will be glued to his or her DS.
All told, Brain Age has been a fun experience thus far, if a little brief. Check back next week when Brain Age releases nationally and PGC puts up the full review.