Review by OutOfRange

"A Brain Strainer"

If a game's success is determined by the amount of copycat games that appear after it, then brain age may be one of the most successful recent releases.

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Storyline (N/A)
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There really isn't one here, the game is more of an application, just presented in the form of a game. Dr. Kawashima's goal is to help you exercise your brain and keep it healthy, and to do this a variety of ‘games' are used. The real story is the progress of your brain as it either gets cleverer or stupider by the day and unfortunately, Dr Kawashima will let you know which it is, something that can become pretty annoying if you hear it often.

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Gameplay (7/10)
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These games range from doing mental maths, to the stroop test where words are written in different colours and you need to say the colour it's written in rather than the word. There's a fair amount of variety and since you can only do the test one time a day, and you only do three of the tests each time, there's enough to keep you occupied for about a week. There's also some unlockables, but unfortunately, I didn't like them very much, and to be honest, I got rather bored of the game after a week.

The problem is that the grading is way too harsh, and even when you've done your absolute best, you still get rather poor results. The problem stems from the fact you reach a point where you just can't improve anymore, but unfortunately, the best anyone seems to be able to get falls far shy of what Nintendo seem to think everyone should be aiming for. This creates a huge amount of frustrating, ultimately meaning that you lose interest in the game for its unfair marking. The fact that you always get the polygonated head having a go at you every time you load up also loses its shine and winds up becoming a point of major irritation.

The game's main fault is that it's all based on how well you do on the first go, do really well and even if you're only a few marks below it each time you'll always get the game having a go at you for being crap. Another strategy is to intentionally do really bad the first time and then you don't get him verbally abusing you quite so often. However, it's not a goof situation where you purposely have to go out of your way to do that just to get enjoyment out of the game.

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Graphics (6/10)
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There's not a lot there, most of it is text based, but what graphics that are there are generally crisp and do their job well enough. But unfortunately, the drabness of the game can also cause you to lose focus and become bored of looking at the same few screens over and over. There's not really many ways you could write a list of maths questions without it getting distracting, so there isn't much more that can be said, however I do question some of their colour choices, as bright yellow on a white background can be extremely difficult to read. Even worse when you're on a time limit. Also the character recognition is awful, as you do a four and it prints out a nine, etc. It's not that hard to do, I've made some pretty basic DS homebrew that could read input better than this game.

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Sounds (7/10)
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As with the graphics, there's not a lot there, but the sounds do their job well enough. The background music isn't too distracting and the sound effects do a good job of telling you what was right and wrong. The voice recognition needs a little work as well as you find it putting in the wrong things, and while you usually get a chance to correct it, sometimes it goes to fast and it marks you wrong before you get a chance to change your answer.

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Summary (7/10)
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It's not a bad title, and it did a good job of attracting a lot of media attention and thus new customers for the DS. There's some variety, but not a huge amount meaning that it does get boring rather quickly. That said, if you like the tests a lot, there might be more life in it for you. You also get a lot of sudoku puzzles with the game, which when you consider they also sell sudoku games separately for the same price as this game, it isn't that bad a deal. However, when you've ultimately finished with it, this really is a prime example of a game you'll never load up again.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/28/07


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