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

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Blue. Blue? BAH-LOO! Dammit!

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Honestly, I'm not really even sure that Brain Age is a game, at least in the familiar sense of the word.  But none-the-less, Brain Age is definitely worth checking out.  The "software" as the game refers to itself as attempts to jog your post-high school brain back into a workout by throwing various mathematical and grammatical puzzles at you, often in rapid succession.  This may sound like an awful way to spend your time to some, but Nintendo has presented the tests in such a way that is fun and addictive.  Dr. Ryuta Kawashima hosts your daily dose of brain training and offers an array of tasks that will give your prefrontal cortex a workout.  Many of the modes are more difficult than they appear.  Oh, and there's over 100 Sudoku puzzles to do! 
Basic, basic, basic.  It's a game primarily about words and numbers.  What do you want?  Complex shaders and bloom lighting?  It gets the job done in a simple and well layed out presentation.   

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It may seem strange to turn your DS on its side, but it works wonderfully.  It may actually be more comfortable to hold that way.  The touch screen usually works as your scribble pad while the left screen (top screen) throws problems at you to solve.  Occasionally you will have the option to use your voice to solve tasks such as the Stroop Test, which displays a word in colored text and you have to say what color it is.  Sound easy?  It's not as easy as it sounds.  Sudoku works wonderfully on the DS.  I almost don't even want to do them the old fashioned way ever again.  Tapping each square zooms in so you can write a number.  You can even write multiple numbers in each box if you write them in a smaller fashion in order to make the process of elimination much easier.  No scratch paper needed!  For the most part, everything works great, but there are occasional mishaps.  The game tends to not understand certain words when spoken for some people, especially "Blue," which can be massively frustrating and detrimental to your saved score.  Also, you will sometimes run into issues where the game doesn't understand what you wrote by turning your 3 into a 5, 1 into a 7, etc.  But it's not often enough to make a stink about. 
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Also minimal.  Many of the menu sounds seem to be recycled from Nintendogs or at least very similar.  The scribble sound when you write is excellent though! 
Replay Value 
The game is intended to be played once a day for about 15-20 minutes.  The way it works is each day you partake in random tests that lead to an overall score.  The score is translated into your current "Brain Age."  The younger (lower score), the better.  The lowest score possible is 20, which also adds to the fact that the game is aimed at post-highschoolers.  The tests range from flash card style math problems to Stroop tests to freehand drawing to observation skills.  Each day you will get a stamp for completing your training.  The more days you get stamped, the more types of activities you will unlock.  You can play these whenever you want, but you can only chart your Brain Age once a day.  Playing every day you will have all the game types unlocked within two weeks, but the Sudoku alone will keep you playing for a long time. 
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This is probably one of the most polarizing games ever.  You're either going to love this or hate it.  If math isn't your thing, it probably isn't for you, but maybe you'd enjoy the challenge.  Personally, I think it's a great piece of "software," and a great deal for $19.99.  There's not really anything like this on the market, and that's one of the things Nintendo continuously does with success.  Brain Age is already a ridiculously massive success in Japan, and hopefully it catches on here.  Big Brain Academy is already fast on the way.  If you have a DS, check out Brain Age. 
*** This review was written for shortly after the game's release. ***

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