Although the game is an enjoyable collection of minigames, it is short-lived enjoyment. It got my grammar gooder though.
The tagline, "Train your brain in minutes a day" has become a popular topic on blogs and radio shows as doctors, psychologists and laymen attempt to discover the truth behind whether or not this game actually does train your brain.
It probably does no harm. Hosted by the blocky, computerised head of the game's creator, Dr. Kawashima (you will learn to hate his patronising disembodied head, especially if you take a few days out from playing), you are coached through a series of minigames, including simple maths problems, memory tests and speed-reading. The scores of each game is recorded daily, and you are constantly fighting to beat your own previous best scores. As a result, this game probably does do more for your brain than a mundane, unchallenging run-and-jump platform game. This is just an opinion, however, and the fact is that there are opposing arguments.
The theory that the game does train your brain has given rise to massive sales. Public popularity is proof of nothing, however, and as you delve deeper into the game you discover a well-presented collection of puzzles, basically. The twee, blocky appearance does nothing to hinder the game, and neither does the sound. They are oblivious, and in a game like this, that is a good thing.
The minigames themselves can be challenging, especially as you pit yourself against previous days' and other players' records. This is entertaining for a while, and always fun when a new player takes up one of the three save slots on the card. The most notable, besides the speed maths (which is better than it sounds), is the flash-memory game Low-to-High. The screen shows you a shape with numbers placed on it for a second, and you have to remember the placement and repeat the order once the numbers disappear. Far from easy but great fun for sure.
After these training minigames, you are asked to test your brain age. This is done through three random tests from a selection of seven. Better scores give you a lower brain age. This is actually brilliant for the first couple of weeks, but, as you will inevitably discover, it is too possible to figure out how to get a low brain age, and repeat this result consecutively, from day to day.
The addition of a wealth of Sudoku boards adds a huge amount to the lifespan of the game. You are timed in these, to keep you coming back to the same boards, attempting to break your own records. This made a huge difference to the lifespa of the game, adding weeks of enjoyment to the brain-training, which would have become stale after a few weeks otherwise.
There are also a few nice little extra features, like drawing pictures at random intervals under the instruction of your host, Dr. Kawashima. The game mastery is quite good too. All of the DS features are employed, including the microphone, touchscreen and buttons. However, the microphone is a little shaky at best (having an Irish accent, the game wouldn't accept certain things I said unless I used an English accent. Very, very frustrating).
At the end of the day, this is a semi-accomplished, enjoyable and different game. Does it train your brain? Who knows. Is it worth playing? Absolutely. Is it worth owning? At the right price, I would say go for it.