7.5

Brain Age is a game that manages to defy expectations.

So video games are bad for you, right? Nothing but violence and murder and disrespect for one's elders? Well, Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day is a game which attempts to change that notion, with several different mini-games (or exercises) that are supposedly designed with the intent of keeping your brain fresh and alert. Weather or not it actually succeeds at doing so is open to interpretation, but it's worth looking at this game nonetheless.

To start with, the game offers you the option to either perform one of a few different exercises to strengthen your brain, or to take a random selection of three tests to determine your "brain age," which is the measuring stick by which it determines just how strong your brain is. Most of these are scored on how quick and accurate you are, some require you to perform simple mathematical calculations, others require you to memorize different things and repeat them back to the computer. All of them use either the touch screen or the DS microphone exclusively, and allow you to keep track of your progress over a period of days and weeks to see how you're improving. However, the game only allows you to record your score once every day that you play, limiting replay just a bit. Occasionally the game’s voice recognition can be a pain too, as it sometimes mistakes simple words for others or outright refuses to recognize them until they’re repeated several times.

There is also an option to play one of a few dozen different Sodoku puzzles, independently of the normal Brain Training exercises. These are simple number puzzles which take place on a nine by nine grid. To complete one, you must draw a number from one to nine in each of the squares so that no number repeats itself in either the same horizontal or vertical row, or in the same three by three group of squares. There are enough of these to keep things interesting, and it's nice to have something to turn to once you run out of exercises to perform each day. And at the very least this saves paper.

Brain Age's biggest fault is simply how very repetitive it is. Each of the exercises is rather short, and they get repetitive very quickly, even if you only perform them once a day to have a score to record. Playing through them every day does eventually open up even more games to play through, but there aren't enough of these to make it feel worthwhile after a time. Eventually, it all just starts to feel old, and that hurts the game ultimately. Occasionally the game’s voice recognition can be a pain too, as it sometimes mistakes simple words for others or outright refuses to recognize them until they’re repeated several times.

Brain Age looks and sounds just fine, it's just not a very striking game either visually or aurally. The presentation comes off as maybe a little bland, but it's not there to dazzle the player, it's supposed to present its information clearly and concisely, and that's what it succeeds at doing for the player.

Weather or not Brain Age actually helps your brain is open for debate. It's length certainly doesn't do much to help it's case. However, it's various games are fun to practice and get better at as the days go by, and it's got enough in it to keep players busy for at least a few weeks. It's budget price is also a big plus, and makes the game a lot easier to recommend to anyone either hungry for a quick DS fix or possibly on the edge over this game. It definitely makes edutainment a lot more fun than one might expect, which is commendable enough in itself.

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