|features / game column||
content by: editor
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? Its 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.
Dr Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? is out now on Nintendo DS.
Read members' comments related to this game.
comment by MurciaSurf Oct 10, 2007Please 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.
comment by Mister Savage Aug 8, 2006Well 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.
comment by cherry_gloss Aug 7, 2006How 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
comment by Miyagi San Aug 7, 2006I 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!
comment by duck-milk Aug 7, 2006i meant poor souls, see what i mean, lol!!
comment by duck-milk Aug 7, 2006Having 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!!!
comment by Medibot Aug 7, 2006Woo! I'm finally entering the modern world of gaming cos I've won a DS! Brain Training sounds awesome.
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.
comment by Cyzaki Jul 13, 2006My 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
comment by racing-toth Jun 26, 2006one 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.
note: The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
half-life 2: ep one games #156
rise of nations
related member reviews
by mister savage
games archiveaccess 1000s of articles
books and comics archive
Author interviews and reviews from 2002 to 2008.
Watch artist interviews and see images from British exhibitions.