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Brain Age 2 Review

windy By:
GENRE Puzzle 
PLAYERS 1- 16 
E What do these ratings mean?

Now that's using your head.

I think everyone's first job should be in fast food. First, after learning how much upper body strength it takes to make 30 gallons of coleslaw, or discovering what in the meat world passes for 'Grade A', you will never, ever want to eat the stuff again.

click to enlargeThis may help prolong your life. Second, it will help you appreciate your next job. This may help prolong your sanity. Third, it will teach you to count back change like a pro, because the better you are on the register, the less your shoulders and pits will smell like coleslaw when your shift ends. Believe me, I know. I'm still quite damaged from the coleslaw incident.

Counting back change is one of the daily training sessions you can take in Brain Age 2. Understandably, I excel at this one. There are other simple tasks to complete, like playing the melody to a familiar song, or watching a race and determining the place of a runner.

You are guided through the game by the talking head of the game's creator, one Dr. Ryuta Kawashima. He tells you how playing the game may help prolong the healthy functioning of your brain. This guy is very passionate about your prefrontal cortex. He is so passionate about this one area of the brain in particular that it makes me wonder why I had to remember words like medulla oblongata or cerebellum in seventh grade at all.

click to enlargeThen I say 'medulla oblongata' out loud and realize they were good words to learn, which makes me doubt all this prefontal cortex propaganda. Then that makes me wonder where in the brain skepticism is born, because it can't all be about the prefrontal cortex can it? I mean, I'm no brain surgeon, but... Which makes me realize I am thinking about some weird, random things, which, according to Dr. Ryuta, is exactly what is good for activating my prefrontal cortex. So maybe there's something to this theory of his. Still, my parietal lobe is feeling a little marginalized and although she's putting up a good front, deep down I can tell my hypothalumus is absolutely fuming.

Besides Dr. Ryuta's disturbing obsession with all things prefrontal, Brain Age 2 is a pretty good game. When you start, you are taken to a menu with four options: Quick Play, which lets you get a feel for the game without actually committing to it; Daily Training, you can enter personal details like name and age so the software can track and save progress; Sudoku, which takes you to 100 Sudoku puzzles of varying difficulty (includes a decent tutorial for those new to the game); and Download, where up to 16 players can play on your cartridge.

If you meet someone with a DS, you can send them the game and play three mini-games head to head. If you have three or more players, you can also play a fourth game. Syncing up with a friend was easy and quick. The game holds many cute surprises, and the more you play the more you will unlock or discover. It's big on positive feedback, making it attractive to kids as well as adults. In fact, you can get the whole family to play, as the game will save and chart data for up to four players. Brain Age 2 is the perfect companion for waiting rooms, as the tasks take only a few minutes to complete, replay value is high, and lately, those staffers at Highlights just haven't been pumping out the Goofus and Gallant gems I demand.

click to enlargeYou will probably spend the bulk of your time in the Daily Training portion of the game. Daily Training is fun on its own, but ultimately the point of training is to get you ready for your Brain Age Check. This is a series of three randomly chosen tests used to calculate your 'brain age'. Since the name of the game is Brain Age, you should try this area once or twice. But almost no one likes taking tests, so unless you're really fretting over some recent signs of dementia or something, I say why bother with the Brain Age Check? There's plenty elsewhere in the game to keep you busy.

The game makes good use of many DS features. It has fun sound effects. It has competent, though not infallible, handwriting recognition. You have to speak to it, and most of the time it understands you - and it asks you before you begin your Brain Age Check if you are in a place where you can speak freely. While it usually works, it is still frustrating when your brain age suffers just because the game misunderstood what you said or wrote.

If you can speak, one of the tests you must take is a devilish game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. I'm not overly fond of that particular game, because my brain age inevitably suffers. I'd rather do math anyway - that's no fault of the game, and you too will have your favorites. Mostly, I think this is because of the coleslaw incident.
B Revolution report card
  • Ease of use
  • Variety of games
  • Replay factor
  • Speech/handwriting recognition
  • Rochambeaux
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