OK, so between the Brain Age games and Big Brain Academy, your mind is super sharp. Your noggin can cut glass, but what about your vision? It's probably a total mess. That's probably why Nintendo and Namco have teamed up to take the Brain Age concept to a new series of minigames with a focus on hand-eye coordination, as well as other visual concepts, with the release of Flash Focus. OK, so the science is probably just as shaky as it was in Brain Age, but either way, this collection of quick and easy minigames is still pretty good.
Like Brain Age, the game is broken up into a couple of different modes. The Eye Age Check gives you a series of random tests and, depending on how you do, assigns your eyes an age. The younger your eyes are, the better. The random tests are taken from the longer list of training exercises, which are broken up into core games and sports games. The core has you playing a shell game as you try to follow a box with a circle hidden under it while it swaps around with two empty boxes, among other things. The sports games are a little more involved than the typical minigame you'd find in a game like this, and they look a bit better too. Boxing is a training game, where a trainer holds out pads for you to tap with the DS stylus. Baseball has you tap the screen to hit a ball, but you have to tap at the right time to get a good, clean hit. Basketball slides players into frame and quickly turns them into black silhouettes. You must keep track of which players were wearing your team's colors and tap the friendly players. It's all fairly fast-paced, and once you master one game, a harder version of it unlocks. There are plenty of games to play too, but you'll have to keep coming back and training every day to unlock most of them. While it's more twitchy and less mind-empowering than the stuff in the Brain Age games, it's still a fun collection.
Visually, the game maintains a lot of the same elements as the Brain Age games, such as the calendar, the ability to change your stamp, the way you sign your name in a box to create a profile, and the like. The games themselves have a different look, though. For example, the game has you hold the DS as you normally would rather than rotate it as you would in Brain Age. And the sports games have a different look from the stick figure stuff in Brain Age. It's a welcome change. The sound effects are minimal, while the menu music is upbeat and pleasant.
The game also has an eye-relaxation process that it takes you through after training. The relaxation section has you rolling your eyes, blinking, and generally unwinding after a hard day of eye training, which--as we all know--is 2007's version of working in a coal mine. It's accompanied by speech, so you can still figure out what you're supposed to be doing even when your eyes are supposed to be closed. As a result, playing this in public can look particularly silly. You can skip the eye relaxation if you like, but unleashing your wound-up eyes on an unsuspecting world sounds pretty dangerous. It's probably best to just do what the game says and not leave anything to chance. You can also play with another player using download play, which lets you compete in some of the minigames.
The nicest part about Flash Focus is that like the other Touch Generations games that Nintendo has released, it's available at a budget price. For a simple little collection of fun minigames, $20 sounds just about right. If you've enjoyed other games of this ilk, you'll find Flash Focus to be a refreshing alternative.