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GBU review for Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day (Nintendo DS)

This little game marries entertainment and education – and therefore is referred to as “edutainment.” How cute. Little brain teasers and exercises stimulate your thought processes and get the wheels turning again, but packaged in mini-game format so you don’t even realize you are … gasp … thinking. And since you’ve probably already wasted a few hours (and brain cells) playing your 360 or PS3, the games really do take a matter of minutes – combined. The idea is that you first set up a profile and run a brain age test to determine whether your responsiveness is that of, say, a perky and attentive teenager or a tired old grandpa. By completing a few exercises a day, you will hypothetically see improvements and reduce brain age.

 Brain Age 2

Good: The puzzles are very simple to figure out, but challenging enough to give your brain a little workout. In this increasingly dumbed down world where even our cell phones have tip calculators (I’m not hating, I love this feature), we sometimes forget how to add anything larger than 2 + 2. It actually kind of feels good to challenge yourself.

The interface is user-friendly and makes great use of the DS capabilities. Most of the time you are writing on the screen with a stylis or speaking into the microphone. It works for either left or right handed folks. The host of the game, Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, is an actual neuroscientist whose avatar slips in for funny comments and tips on how to improve your cognitive thinking. One interesting tip I learned – knitting can actually help stimulate your brain waves.

My favorite feature of the game is actually one of the “bonus” levels they give you as a reward for logging in a certain number of days. There’s a simplified Tetris-like game called Virus Buster that is just the most addicting thing I’ve ever played. There’s also a Sodoku feature that you can play if you are so inclined. Personally, I’m not interested.

Over all I think this is the perfect game to throw in your purse (or whatever dudes carry) to play on the subway or while waiting for a table at a restaurant. It’s quick, easy, and fun.

Bad: If you really think that you’re going to get smarter by playing this game, then you’ll be disappointed. It may awaken your cognitive abilities or improve your memory somewhat, but I wouldn’t bank on lasting effects. I found that my interest dropped off after a few weeks, and I no longer log in on a daily basis to play.

It can get a bit repetitive, but that is kind of the point. You are supposed to get better at the different puzzles and track your progress. I imagine this would get real old after months of “training” (but then you could always buy the original Brain Age to mix it up).

Ugly: Nothing really. This is exactly what it presents itself to be – short, simple puzzles intended to make you think for a few minutes after zoning away at your desk job. Not earth-shattering, nor does it set out to be.

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June 29, 2009 - Posted by | Good Bad and the Ugly - Game Reviews | , ,

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