Like clockwork, a new entry in Nintendo’s popular Brain Age series has been released, this time for the Nintendo 3DS. Doctor Ryuta Kawashima – the disembodied host and trainer – is back once again with Brain Age: Concentration Training, and is ready to present players with all-new, devilish exercises designed to tickle the brain and get player’s memory to be better than ever. But is this entry a worthy one, or should you stick to some of the older lectures instead?
Developed and published by Nintendo
Available on the Nintendo 3DS.
*Review copy provided by Nintendo.
Brain Age: Concentration Training follows the winning formula established in the previous entries, only this time it benefits from the 3D visuals and new graphic capabilities provided by Nintendo’s newest handheld.
Upon booting up the game for the first time, players are presented with the likeliness of Dr. Kawashima and the main gimmick of this new entry in the series: the Devilish Training. This new type of training – which takes around 5 minutes for each exercise – is designed to improve your working memory, and can be pretty challenging the first couple of times. Trust me.
The first exercise presented in the new Devilish Training program is called Devilish Calculations, which has players memorizing solutions to math problems and answering two problems down the line. If a player solves 75 percent or more of the problem, the exercise will go up a level and increase the difficulty of the exercise. Players will constantly be going up and down levels as things get easier or harder. This can occasionally lead to some form of frustration or boredom with the repetitive nature in the exercises, but eventually players should be able to prevail and keep the challenge constant..
In addition to the Devilish Training, there’s also other training activities to keep people busy, or give their heads a break. There’s Supplemental training, aimed at working with the speed of the working memory. There’s also Brain Training, which works with keeping the brain busy, and Relaxation Mode, which as the title states, entertains players with various games and activities. Finally, there’s the Concentration Challenge, which is similar to Devilish Calculations, but it’s a one-time-a-day deal.
After playing for a couple days, new activities and exercises will pop up to keep everything fresh and entertaining. Devilish Training gets new exercises like Devilish Pairs (a card-matching game where players have to memorize the numbers on the cards the first time they see them), Devilish Mice (where players must track a growing number of mice that are hidden behind block), Devilish Reading (where players must read a number of passages and memorize keyword that must be inputed and the end), and more. All other training and relaxation modes also get additional activities, bringing it to a total of 29 things to do at the end of the day.
Dr. Kawashima also gives lectures every so often, usually revolving around the need to train your brain and the benefits of doing so. While these slides are informative and interesting, they aren’t really necessary and occasionally get in the way of a quick training session. Thankfully these can be skipped with a touch of a button, or players can speed up Kawashima’s dialogue by tapping and holding the stylus on the touch screen to jump straight into the gameplay.
Dr. Kawashima’s training methods might be rock solid in Concentration Training, but the game isn’t devoid of flaws. The only thing I really had an issue with is that the series still has some trouble recognizing certain ways people write letters and numbers. I write my letter e’s by starting from the bottom and my number 4’s open instead of closed, and the game never understood them. This led me to alter the way I write just so the game could recognize these particular symbols, and yet I still find myself having occasionally having issues. This was particularly frustrating when I was completing time-based exercises like the Concentration Challenge, where writing a answer wrong or leaving it in an unreadable state could cost you. I constantly found myself knowing the answers and yet being cut short just because the game failed to understand the way I wrote.
Despite the issue with the unrecognizable letters and numbers, Brain Age: Concentration Training is a fun educational/exercise game that really gives players a workout. Whether it be 5 minutes a day to hours on end, adults and children alike will have a good time with Dr. Kawashima and his Devilish Training. It’s well designed, doesn’t take time, and makes you feel good that your doing constructive things. What’s not to like?