A game that improves brain activity in a fun and addictive way for only $20?!
BobbyBobby85 wrote this review on .
The first thing you'll notice about this game is that it must be held sideways like a book, as to help secure the feel of writing in a notebook or journal. As with most DS games using the touch screen, there are options of alternating between left-handed and right handed users, which equates to merely turning the Unit the other way around so the touch screen is on the left side adjusting positions accordingly. A nice touch if I may say so myself.
After a few minutes of playing around with the various challenges the game throws at you, it may come to your attention that the handwriting recognition can sometimes misread what you put down for answers. This isn't too bad for the most part, but when the game incorrectly penalizes you for your handwriting even when you know the right answer and the number written looks legible enough to the eye, you somehow feel cheated. Eventually, you learn to adjust to the game's mechanics, but no matter how well you alter your play style, you'll still occasionally run into some unjust touch-screen miscalculations of your scribbles. The game seems to have the most difficulty recognizing the numbers "4", "7" and "9", and the list grows when it comes to the alphabet. Thankfully, the game waits confusedly when it can't comprehend your answers, so it's not like you don't have the opportunity to fix your response. The only downfall to this quick-fix correction scheme is that if your answer has multiple digits or letters, you must erase it rewrite the entire thing even if you get one part wrong, which can eat away at your completion time. At least in the Stroop color test, all you have to do is say the word again, which is less stressful than writing again and again. Oddly enough, there are less concerns with the accuracy of the microphone voice recognition than with the touch screen controls.
In terms of graphics, there's not much to talk about, save for Dr. Kawashima's polygonal disembodied head. Most of what you'll see is black text on white backgrounds, but there are the occasional color themed puzzles and Stroop tests. You do see some scaling effects on numbers and letters that resemble GBA visuals, but the effect is mainly used to disorient you and challenge you, so it's not like fancy polygons are necessary when it comes to testing. As far as rewards go, you get some cute little animations depending on your completion speed which vary from simplistic walking animations to airborne jets. Dr. Kawashima even does some goofy facial expressions depending on your performance, and often provides encouraging advice for when you finish. Other than that, there's not much else to this category, but from a hardcore gamer's perspective, this isn't the kind of title that should rely on visuals to get its point across.
You do get some nice catchy tunes to listen to in between tests, but in-game arithmetic and reading tests have no music at all. Hardly a bad thing, since when do you really need music to distract you during mental exercises? This aspect of the game is a double-edged sword, since high-budget sounds and visuals aren't needed in a game of this kind, but could still help to make the presentation a little more user-friendly. However, we mustn't forget that this isn't a conventional game, so simple buzzes for incorrect answers and satisfying chirps for right answers are really the bare essentials for a "quiz" game. Personally, I find all the extra music and sound effects to be icing on the cake, since I wasn't expecting to much from this category in the first place. I really like the fact that they included some convincing scribbling sounds for when you are writing, even if they are carbon copied from pictochat. All in all, it's not super amazing, but it gets the job done well enough.
The tests themselves are very fun to play around with, but you are only monitored for your first daily input when calculating your brain age. This is kind of unfortunate, but you are still permitted to repeat tests to practice even more for your next outing, if you so desire. Most of the time, you won't fare too well your first time out, but this is precisely what motivates you to do better in the future. Many of the tests offer differing brain teasers to stimulate mental activity, which most of the time can catch you off guard, no matter how confident or expedient you may think you are with your upstairs smarts. I could easily see parents and teachers alike digging this game for it's "real-world" challenge especially for it's attractive learning appeal and sense of style. I mean, when was the last time an educational title was even remotely fun?
In conclusion, there's not much of a reason to pass this up for a mere $20. The fact that you can exercise your brain daily, improving thought processes for the better in a fun, effective manner should be reason alone to get this game. There's plenty to strive for, and long term self-help for a cheap price is something everyone could use these days. You'd have to be stupid (pun intended) to not at least try this game. DS just got one more unique thing going for it, so here's to hoping this isn't the last of these kinds of games.