Review by ReZips
"A game that your parents may steal from you when you least expect it"
Brain Age in its essence is an educational game. That right there will turn off about 90% of the gaming population. But that 90% is missing something that could be touted as a revolutionary product, and a fun one at that. For me, a lifelong hardcore gamer, I initially had no interest in this game whatsoever. It wasn't until literally months later when a friend of mine had a copy in his DS that I became slightly interested. He sent me the demo through the system and I tucked it away in my bag and forgot about it. Many hours later I awoke and found my DS still in sleep mode. I opened it to find my demo of Brain Age still alive in my system. I began to try it out, and I was immediately hooked. I played the demo of the Calculations X 20 game at least 15 times in just as many minutes. I went out and bought it, and that's all she wrote.
A Brain Age is something the producers of the game made up that is essentially an age for your brain (hence the name). The lower the age (the lowest is 20), the smarter you are (according to the game). There are training games that are surprisingly fun that are meant to improve your brain age, such as calculation games, memorization games, counting games, and voice recognition games. Each of these has a pretty good accuracy rating, one surprising higher then you might expect. However the system is not without its errors. The writing system is very good, except it has trouble with 4s, depending on how you write them. You find out over time to change your writing style to better suit the game, but it can be at times frustrating in the speed games when you write a 4 and it thinks it's a 9 or nothing at all. The voice recognition is the same way with the word Red. These small things may seem to diminish the game, but in reality it really doesn't. There are plenty of reasons to get this game, but of course the main reason is for the Sudoku. The Sudoku was thrown into this game as an add on, but it is LITERALLY the best Sudoku on any handheld system. There are over 100 puzzles and each is great and challenging. Seeing as the game is only 20 bucks (where as lesser Sudoku-full games are more) that right there is a reason to get this game.
You won't be blown away by the graphics in this game. Everything is very basic in this game, from the numbers to the menus to the graphics. But it won't matter in this game, because you won't really care about it.
This is really hard to measure, because Brain Age isn't really a game, per se. However there is a lot of fun and variety to be had, as well as plenty of challenges and interesting games to play, not to mention the abundance of Sudoku puzzles. The small glitches in recognition may turn you off, but overall they shouldn't really affect your gameplay.
There basically is no sound in this game. There is a scribble sound when you write. And, um, elevator music on the menu screen. That's about it. This really shouldn't factor in at ALL to your wanting the game or not, because, once again, it shouldn't matter. Sound plays basically no part in this game. It'd be cool if there were hearing games, but alas, there are not, so whatever.
This is a game that relies heavily on the fact that you will play it often. The graphs are daily, and over time you will see an interesting flow of how you've improved in each training exercise, as well as your overall brain functions. You'll unlock all the training games within a week or two (depending on how often you play) but you'll be able to track everything you do forever. The Sudoku is a major reason to come back, even when you finish all the puzzles because then you can come back to the originals and they'll seem new, and you'll also be able to beat your old times. The game was smart in including multiple files for multiple people, so that you can compare speeds and Brain Age. In my family, there is a mini competition of who can do which exercises the fastest.
Brain Age is a game that isn't for gamers, but is. It's for everyone. People who have never played a game in their life will find themselves loving Brain Age. It is really a game that not only shows off the DS's functionality, but also a new way to approach gaming systems as a whole. It may have some flaws and it may not be as expansive as you'd like, but at the end of the day, you'll realize that Brain Age is a game that was worth buying because it was interesting, innovation, and fun.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/27/06
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