canuckeh's Touhoku Daigaku Mirai Kagaku Gijutsu Kyoudou Kenkyuu Center: Kawashima Ryuuta Kyouju Kanshuu: Nou wo Kitaeru Otona no DS Training (Nintendo DS) review

Nintendo calls you stupid

Brain Age : Train Your Brain in Minutes A Day : The solution to a problem you don’t have.

Story : Brain Age is based on the ideas of Dr. Ryutu Kawashima, working with the idea that doing certain math, visual and memory problems on a routine basis will improve your brain…somehow.

As you age, your brain may become dull, old, unfocused. By playing Brain Age, you can keep your brain sharp, clear and young. Also, be sure to drink plenty of pomegranate juice as it helps to flush out the toxins in your system. Be sure to cover your face with beauty products as well to prevent UV rays from giving you wrinkles. Don’t forget to have your colon cleaned out of any excess spackle and waste that may cause the feeling of bloating. Be sure to have proper insecticide in your house too, just in case the killer bees decide to return to America. And above all else, enlist in the army and help fight the war on terror, for as you may recall, President Bush has good intel indicating the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Nintendo has resorted to fear mongering to push a new product on the masses. Their ad campaign declares to the world the threat of “your brain getting older” and the solution is to purchase this product.

Upon playing Brain Age, a giant polygonal head representing Dr. Kawashima (whom, at best, resembles an evil version of Andross and at worst, Mr Sparkle) will explain to the player that brains need exercise too. He’ll even go so far as to give you diagrams of the blood flow that goes into your brain while doing math or speaking aloud, insinuating that these activities are working the brain out. My gut reaction upon hearing this was that the common man can avoid this game altogether and train their brain by doing homework, filing taxes, updating their blog, filing in crosswords or discussing politics and save $20.

The game measures the muscle mass of your gray matter through a series of tests that determine your “Brain Age” rating, telling you how old your brain appears to be. No matter how smart you think you are, you are always going to do poorly on the first few tests because the software on the cart used to recognize your writing is dreadful. Whether you want to or not, you’re going to have to relearn how to write a four, and that’s as bad as number-input gets. Trying to write letters is an exercise in frustration. When trying to write letters in for the game’s “memorize as many words” test, you’ll forget half the words in your blind rage of trying to input the letter B.

I never liked touchpad keyboards like the ones that seem to be all the rage on touch phones, but they would’ve been a much more viable alternative than this.

So on your very first attempt, you will do poorly, and the game will call you stupid. I was told my brain was 60 years old. Then again, I’m sure the game wants the player to blame him or herself for this spectacular failure and be enticed to “train”.

The game provides a small series of mini-games to practice once a day, varying from a set of mathematical equations to assorted counting and memory games. The selection, which is scant to begin with, is unlocked to the player over the course of several days. Along the way, the game keeps score of your performance.

As the days progressed, my performance in these games improved, and I managed to bring my “Brain Age” down closer to my actual age... or at least as much as I could bring it down all the while hoping that the dreaded memory game didn’t come up. So was my brain feeling sharper? Younger? More clear?


My day-to-day performance wasn’t affected at all. My memory was still shoddy and inconsistently reliable. I wasn’t solving out basic math problems with any more ease.

At the end of the day, all of this nonsense about aging brains was just a cheap marketing ploy.

As tempting as it is to just cast Brain Age off as a total scam and telling you, the reader, to just completely forget about it, I will attest that the game does one thing right. Included in the cartridge, under the guise that it’ll improve your prefrontal cortex is an entire set of sudoku puzzles. The presentation isn’t flashy, but the game does offer a versatile series of puzzles, and being the game doesn’t cost much to begin with, so I’d recommend purchasing the game if you want some decent sudoku for the road.

But I wonder how many people are really flocking to stores and buying Nintendo DSs just to play sudoku. Being that there exists any number of ways to “strengthen” your brain, buying a Nintendo DS is certainly not the most efficient. And for existing DS owners, I tend to think that you probably get enough “brain training” as is, from school, work or likewise. And if you’re not, don’t pick up Brain Age, pick up a good book.

Pros : Mercifully, the asks you if you are in an area where you can’t speak loudly and filters out voice-activated tests if you are.

Cons : This game is a con.

2 ½ stars. All of them for the sudoku element. The actual in game content gets a zero.

Taken from Wikipedia; In 2001 Ryuta Kawashima conducted a study at Tōhoku University in Japan, claiming that frontal lobes are not stimulated during video game playing sessions. However scientists widely dismissed his study after he claimed that the lack of stimulation could potentially stunt brain development and negatively affect people's ability to control their behaviour. Kawashima found no direct evidence for permanent brain damage.


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