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features /  game column
editor content by: editor
dr kawashima's brain training
games: dr kawashima's brain training
Brain food.

Nintendo continue to demonstrate their inventiveness, and the versatility of the DS, with Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? It’s a novel proposition for a handheld, not a nice light piece of entertainment or a means of passing the time with colourful activities involving collecting items or shooting things.

No, instead it makes you do arithmetic. And memorise things. And read aloud. It also offers sudoku, which is as close as it probably comes to a conventional idea of gaming. It's not videogaming though, it's very definitely a title that's about mental exercise. Certainly many games do give your brain a work out – the tactical considerations of Advance Wars or the maps and puzzles of a Metroid, say – but this is very specifically about taking your brain to the grey matter gym.



Things like crosswords and, more recently in the west, sudoku, are associated with keeping your brain sharp, even, some argue, helping prevent or at least slow brain degeneration. Brain Training is very much in this camp. As such, it doesn't just demonstrate Nintendo's dedication to expanding the range of activities on their hardware to appeal beyond the traditional demographics, it's also something that's got the potential to be unequivocally good for you.

It's an experience that doesn't necessarily always feel leisurely. The tests generally have to be achieved as quickly as possible, so tripping over your times tables while you don't quite write your answer on the touch screen with the exactness it sometimes requires (it reads my fours as twos a lot) can be frustrating.

The Brain Age Checks, meanwhile, can be a bit wrenching – getting told your brain is 45 years older than your actual age is somewhat horrifying. But, persistence – regular, daily training – will soon rectify this, and the little digital version of Dr Ryuta Kawashima, whose theories about memorisation, cognition and communication inspired the game, will give you amiable praise and encouragement as your brain age heads towards the ideal of 20 (what this means if you're 12 I don't know).



Surprisingly, for an activity that includes the frequent shame of having absolutely no recollection of the times tables that were hammered into most of us between the ages of 5 and 10, Brain Training is a compulsive, strangely rewarding experience. As you progress, you unlock more exercises, keeping the experience varied. That said, if you don't want to do your Daily Training, you can just use it to play that latest national obsession, sudoku. Personally, I like the drawing exercises – there's no maths involved and it's the one activity where I'm better at it than my girlfriend.


Daniel Etherington 15 June 06
Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? is out now on Nintendo DS.
 comments
Read members' comments related to this game.
The humiliation of Brain Training post 18
comment by MurciaSurf    Oct 10, 2007
Please tell me - How do you unlock the other games? I am stuck on 4 very dreary continually repeated ones. My brain age is half my real age, but as I can only be bothered to open it every few weeks I get no new games or tests.
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 17
comment by Mister Savage    Aug 8, 2006
Well done medi!

You unlock things by successfully completing a set number of days training (don't ask me how many, as I don't know). They are quite fun.
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 16
comment by cherry_gloss    Aug 7, 2006
How do you unlock all the different training exercises? I have about 3 that are still mysteriously question marked. My lowest brain age is somewhere about 35 haha
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 15
comment by Miyagi San    Aug 7, 2006
I hate Brain training!

My mental age also started at 82, and I got it down to 62 after an hour of shouting instructions at that smarmy japanese git!

It's soul-destroying I tell you!
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 14
comment by duck-milk    Aug 7, 2006
i meant poor souls, see what i mean, lol!!
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 13
comment by duck-milk    Aug 7, 2006
Having a 3 year old and 1 year old for company all day i think i would be one of the poor sould to average at about 2!!! wah!!!
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 12
comment by Medibot    Aug 7, 2006
Woo! I'm finally entering the modern world of gaming cos I've won a DS! Brain Training sounds awesome.
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 11
comment by Mister Savage    Jul 14, 2006
:-D

My brother tried it, and keeps beating me on the x20 maths challenge. I think his record is 12 seconds. That's about how long it takes me for each one.
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 10
comment by Cyzaki    Jul 13, 2006
My sister loves it because she beats me at the maths. Not a problem you might think, but I graduated on Monday. My degree? Maths... :-D
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The humiliation of Brain Training post 9
comment by racing-toth    Jun 26, 2006
one word of advice. If you try this in the office keep your colleagues at a safe distance, their laughter has a detrimental effect on your score. I aged at least 20 years in the office but that may have more to do with my job than my brain.
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