Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old is Your Brain? Review
Posted by Kevin Cortez
I can now add and subtract small numbers without using my fingers.
In the past, I have heard many things about how good video games are for you. I've heard that they help with hand-eye coordination and can even help increase knowledge. Of course, I never understood how, in anyway, it could really help. Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day has become the first game that I have played that actually made my mind feel like it was working.
My brain had a series of mini-games and mathematical problems that made me focus hard on my DS screen, as well as actually think. Now, if this game makes you smarter or not isn't really something I can confirm, but I will admit that after playing Brain Age, I can now add and subtract small numbers without using my fingers.
Brain Age can be summed up as Hooked on Phonics that all ages can enjoy. The entire idea of Brain Age is for you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that tells you how to apply what you know. Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, who wrote the book Train Your Brain, is responsible for making Brain Age possible. As your brain grows older, it starts to decrease in functionality. The more mature you get, the more you tend to forget things, or the more you have trouble finding out what exactly to say. By playing Brain Age, you can help exercise your brain and prevent things like this from happening to you. By training your brain with Brain Age, you can help prevent a decrease in brain function.
You are given a series of mathematical problems to solve and some selections to read to train your brain. You can easily remember the times tables by using this game, as well as remembering simple addition and subtraction problems, such as 13-7 and 2+15.
Judging by the two math problems I just gave you, you may be thinking that this game is very simple. For some, basic math problems are nothing, but to others — like myself — who do not remember their times tables all too well, this can get a tiny bit tricky. The game isn't all that difficult, but it did take me about five or six seconds for some math problems to process in my brain.
You can also enjoy Brain Age with your family, since up to four people can have their own save slot on the cartridge, so you could have some extra fun comparing Brain Age scores, as well as view each other's horrid DS drawings almost daily (you are asked to draw objects from memory). If you have a larger family, you can always use download play with another DS. Up to 16 people at a time can play Calculations x 30 to see who is the fastest. Download play also gives others a chance to demo Brain Age by playing some Quick Play modes of Sudoku, Training, and a Brain Age Check.
To determine your Brain Age, you must go through a test. The test has you speaking into the microphone, writing with your stylus, and focusing hard with your brain. There are three parts to the test and they change around every once in a while. If you're in a quiet environment, you can choose to only do the tasks that have you touching the DS screen instead of speaking into the microphone. You may have to count the amount of numbers that are spinning on the screen, or guide your stylus to touch a series of letters/numbers in alphabetical/numerical order.
The mini-games included are Calculations x 20, Calculations x 100, Reading Aloud, Low to High, Syllable Count, Head Count, Triangle Math, Time Lapse, Voice Calculation. Calculations x 20 and Calculations x 100 have you completing 20 or 100 very simple math problems in succession.
Reading Aloud has you doing exactly what the title says. You will have to read a certain passage from a classic book out loud (or to yourself, if you are in a public place). The time it took you to read the passage will be recorded.
Low To High is my favorite mini-game. The object is to see if you can recognize the numbers that appear on the top screen. You will be given a second to remember the numbers and their positions. Once you remember them, quickly tap the position the numbers were in, going from the lowest number first to the highest. Your time here is also recorded, along with mistakes.
Syllable Count will have you count how many syllables there are in a certain short sentence. You will write the number of syllables on the touch screen, and will be recorded on how many mistakes you made, and how fast you recognized the syllables.
Head Count is one of the more difficult mini-games. You have a coupe seconds to remember how many people are in a house. Once the time is up, there will be people leaving the house towards the right, and entering the house from the left. Your job is to keep track of how many stay inside. The more you progress, the harder it gets.
With Triangle Math, you start from the top row and work your way down. Once you solve the top level, you then go to the second row, and then eventually get to the bottom answer.
Time Lapse is a game where you tell how much time has elapsed from the top clock to the second. Voice Calculation is the final of these games, and has you speaking into the microphone to solve the mathematical equations.
In addition to these mini-games in training mode, you can also unlock hard modes for Triangle Math, Head Count, and Calculations x 100. Good luck with those!
If you're in an environment where you can speak, you will most likely do a rather easy task of yelling out colors to your DS. Each task isn't too difficult, but they will make you struggle a tad bit. The game measures how many mistakes you have made, how many answers you got correct, and how long it took you to answer the questions, to determine your overall Brain Age. The greatest Brain Age you can receive is 20. The higher the number, the more practice you need.
I found it very frustrating when I was training and the game didn't recognize my handwriting. I would write a "4" and the game would recognize my number as a "56" or "9." I found this very odd. I also noticed that when I have to say the word "blue," it thinks I'm saying something else. I would always get these answers wrong, and it would mess up my score for the game.
If you'd like a break from calculations, but you would still like to train your brain in some way, you can play Sudoku. Sudoku is a mathematical crossword puzzle that will make you think. On the Sudoku plane, there are nine squares, nine rows, and nine columns. There will be a few boxes in those rows and columns that will already be filled with some numbers. The point of Sudoku is to fill each square, row, and column with a number that's from one to nine, without overlapping. For example, if you were to put a "1" in the first square on the plane, there must not be any other "1" in that row, square, or column. These puzzles will take some sweet time, but thankfully, you have the option to save.
There really isn't much else to say about Brain Age, except that it's the best way I can think of for you to become smarter. This game is the perfect way to get you and your family to learn more, or just sharpen your intelligence. Turning your DS to its side like a book and writing with your stylus on the touch screen is the perfect way of activating your prefrontal cortex. Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day is one of the coolest ideas for a game I've ever heard of, and I am looking forward to more of this series by Nintendo.