Nintendo DS : Brain Age : Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day Reviews

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Below are user reviews of Brain Age : Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day and on the right are links to professionally written reviews. The summary of review scores shows the distribution of scores given by the professional reviewers for Brain Age : Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. Column height indicates the number of reviews with a score within the range shown at the bottom of the column. Higher scores (columns further towards the right) are better.

Summary of Review Scores

Game Spot 72
GamesRadar 80
IGN 80
GameSpy 70
GameZone 75
1UP 80

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Use your brain

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 831 / 871
Date: April 17, 2006
Author: Amazon User

I'm not entirely sure whether I can call a game like Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day a video game. Its graphics are hardly groundbreaking, its audios are almost monotonous, and its core gameplay involves reading aloud, counting syllables and solving mathematical problems. Surely, that's not what video gaming is all about, is it? Well, not if you hail from the Nintendo school of gaming, no. As mundane as Brain Age sounds, it's actually strangely addictive, and once you begin your journey of improving your brain age, you'll find yourself deeply immersed in the various activities aimed at giving your brain a daily workout.

The primary objective of Brain Age is to "exercise your brain". This is done through doing activities that are designed to stimulate your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of your brain that influences how you apply what you've learnt (whatever). It's believed that doing these activities on a regular basis will have a positive effect on your brain. Whether or not this holds any truth, I'm not sure. But with 15 activities to choose from, at least the game can keep you occupied for quite a while, even though some of these activities are less desirable to do than others.

Some of these activities include a calculation game, which puts you through a series of simple mathematical problems. 2+6, anyone? Or 8x7, for that matter? Well, you get the picture. The idea is basically to get the brain to start thinking quickly with a succession of simple questions, instead of forcing the player to spend too much time dwelling on one. There're different variations of this calculation module, but the underlying gameplay doesn't divert from the idea of rapidly solving a problem.

Reading aloud is another activity in Brain Age. Obviously, this makes use of the DS' mic, and it basically requires you to read through an article as quickly as possible. While you may have problems pronouncing words like "epoch", you can actually breeze through this activity by simply bulldozing through without pronouncing the words properly. Just remember to wipe the saliva off your DS screens. Syllables counting is another mini-game on Brain Age. This one requires you to count the number of syllables in a short sentence, and then write the answer down on the touch screen. If you're not exactly sure about what is a "syllable", just remember that the word "syllable" itself has three syllables, and you should be fine.

Of course, there're more to just calculation, reading aloud, or counting syllables in Brain Age, but as you can see, the activities in the game are not exactly the "saving the world from an evil force" kind. Yet, the game's appeal comes in the form of its simplicity. At times, when playing this game, I feel like I'm doing one of those online IQ tests, and the eagerness to score well is impetus enough for me to keep going despite the dryness of the questions. This basically sums up the charm of Brain Age.

To spice things up a little, Brain Age also included a substantial amount of Sudoku puzzles. Now, if you can believe my wife, Sudoku is the best thing on Earth since sliced bread. The popularity of this grid-based puzzle game is immense, and it's not surprising to see it being included in the game. As with the usual Sudoku books, the Sudoku puzzles in Brain Age are sorted according to difficulty. The easy ones are, well, pretty easy to solve, while the advanced ones require more logical thinking. Anyhow, Brain Age contains more than 100 Sudoku puzzles, which should keep fans of Sudoku occupied for quite some time. Having Sudoku as one of the 15 activities in Brain Age basically provides additional value for an already value-for-money budget game.

And, to top it up, Brain Age also has a multiplayer mode, which allows you to host up to an amazing 15 players with one cartridge. Unfortunately, the only playable activity in this mode is the calculation module, which lets you take on others in 30 mathematics questions. This gets old really quickly. It'd be fun if you can challenge your friends to a game of Sudoku (duh!), really.

Brain Age also requires a unique way of playing. You play it with the DS being held vertically, much like reading a book, with the touch screen on the right. The concept is to recreate the scenario of solving puzzles in a puzzle book, and to a certain extent, this blends in very nicely with the objective of the game. And, true to the game's out-of-the-box nature, Brain Age is played entirely with the DS' features. That is, via the touch screen and the mic. These make the game more "book-like" than the usual DS games. The game also caters to left-handers. If you're a leftie like me, simply tell the game so, and you can turn the DS "the other way round" so that the touch screen switches to the left. This is a nice touch, or the game may just lose a lot of potential buyers!

The problem with how the game plays, however, lies in the sensitivity of the touch screen and the mic. Somehow, it seems to have problem registering my pronunciation of "black", and doesn't really recognize my "8" on the touch screen properly. As a result, I've an initial brain age of 76 (!) because of unnecessary errors. It appears that players will need to adapt to how the game receives input to do well in their own results. This is not exactly a big issue, but it could be frustrating when you're trying to beat a certain timing, only to be let down by your poor handwriting or diction.

In conclusion, Brain Age is a very different sort of game, even by the DS' selection of quirky titles. It may not boast the usual features that sell a video game, but in their place, we've something that is simple, unassuming, and ultimately very addictive. Moreover, the game is supposed to improve the functionality of your brain, so what's there to lose? Brain Age is highly recommended.

I'll Be Happier with the Next Release

3 Rating: 3, Useful: 340 / 422
Date: April 29, 2006
Author: Amazon User

Numerous studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles and sudoku puzzles helps to keep your brain active. Brain Age takes this to the next level, with charts and graphs of your progress.

First, let me say that I have an issue with the whole concept of "Brain Age". The game claims that your ideal brain is at age 20 and that any age older than that is a "bad brain". That is pretty silly. There are 20 year olds who have very 'dead' brains because all they do is watch TV all day. There are also 60 year olds who are incredibly smart and who do fantastic research and writing. I realize of course that this game wants to "lure you in" with promises of eternal youth - that's what our whole culture is about in these modern times. Still, I wish that they could have chosen another way to do it - that you are running 100% optimal, or 20% optimal or so on. To have you "aim to be 20" seems very silly to me.

The game's *premise* is a sound one, though. The more you exercise your brain, the more the blood flow moves through your brain and the healthier it is. Study after study shows that elderly people who use their brains remain alert - while those who vegetate alone in a room decay quickly. This game uses exercises that apparently have been proven in tests to boost that brain flow.

The setup of the game is well done. Each day you have a series of tests you do. There are numerous graphs and charts to show you how well you are improving over all, and if other people are doing their own profiles on your DS you can compare against them as well.

While the setup is good, the implementation has numerous problems. This is the sort of game that I will really like version 2 of - but version 1 just wasn't quality tested enough.

First, the speech recognition. One of the core games in this is the classic color game where you see the word RED written in black letters, and have to say "black". It's been around for a while, and it's a fun challenge. The problem is that this game has ALL sorts of trouble understanding what you're saying. The word "blue" seems to really give it problems. So you get the word properly - but it doesn't hear you, and you get penalized.

All they had to do is have the system train itself on your voice - i.e. have you say "red" 10 times in a row, for it to learn what your pronunciation of that word is. Otherwise it becomes an exercise in frustration, because you don't know what the game is trying to hear.

Note that we have MANY games that use the mic on the DS. We know how to use it, we know to speak clearly and softly, not to yell. We've tried multiple pronunciations of "blue" and "bluu" and "bloo" and "blew". None works regularly. It's definitely a software problem.

Next, the character recognition. Many of the games involve you writing things on the touch pad - either numbers for the math games or letters for the word memorization. However, the game only has certain ways that it wants these to be written - and it doesn't tell you. You spend the first few games cursing because every time you write a "4" the game thinks it's a "9". Every "B" becomes a "R". After a while through trial and error you learn to alter your natural writing style to match what the game seems to want - which is silly. The game should ask YOU to write the letters the way you want to - and then know to match against those.

There's also a lot of inane "chatter" before you can play games. It's cute the first time, and maybe the second, but then it gets really annoying. If you have 10 minutes to do your "daily workout" you don't want to waste 5 of it hitting "next screen" while he blathers on about eating breakfast.

The sudoku puzzles are fun, but easy. Most of us have access to online Sudoku and have thousands and thousands available of all difficulty levels. There are only a few here comparatively and my boyfriend easily gets the "rocket ship speed" doing them.

My main complaint is that there are a ton of brain-challenging games out already for the DS that boast great gameplay, graphics, sound and long term playability. They definitely test your brain in the exact same manner. Lumines, Tetris and Polarium spring to mind. Those involve a lot of quick thinking and pattern recognition. Why couldn't Brain Age involve puzzles more like that? Why are the puzzles all so "boring"? Do IQ tests *have* to be boring? There are hundreds of educational software programs for the PC that do the exact same test styles - number matching, addition etc. - that are incredibly fun. This game by comparison appears that it was made in the 80s as far as that goes.

Still, we play it every day, to get in our "brain education time". In general I found this to be a great *start*. However, I really think they can do MUCH better with this concept in the next version. They can fix the problems with voice and character recognition. They can bring the graphics and sounds up into the 21st century. They can add in more variety of games. This was a nice start - but there really should be much more depth to a game that they expect you to play day after day for months on end.

Brain Freeze

4 Rating: 4, Useful: 50 / 56
Date: April 19, 2006
Author: Amazon User

There isn't so much when it really comes to mental games for consoles or handhelds, unless it is something you'd see in the newspapers like the typical crossword puzzle, or the recently popular numbers game sudoku. They all have been so well-rendered to keep your mind in tip top shape. As for Nintendo, they have also made their mark with the way we play video games on the home market, and the handhelds with the Game Boy rendiditons, and the Nintendo DS nearly over a year ago. Well, Nintendo has put that mental challenge to the extremes for the DS in more ways than one.

Brain Age for the Nintendo DS, is a compilation of all different kinds of games and puzzles that test your ability to read, and apply yourself mentally. The game consists of certain evaluations that reflect on how you remember words, simple math problems, and how fast you can also read. The game also includes sudoku on it, and it tells you how you are with the game, and what you need to do better. The stylus is really used quite well, and much better than most of the other games that rely on it. There also are challenges that test you verbally as well, like the stroop exam where you have to read the color of the text of a word, instead of the word itself. There is one big disadvantage, you have to say the words clearly through the stroop exam, because there are times where you may get the answer right, it might not be registered properly and your score may be affected.

Despite a few flaws on the microphone, Brain Age really is a great mental challenge for Nintendo DS. It is a must buy for the mind as well as the pockets. I love how stimulating the challenges are, and there is so much to go around. I just hope there are more of these mental games for other systems like this one soon, it is definitely something missing for the video game market.

Graphics: B+

Sound: A-

Price: A-

Microphone use: C+

Control: B 1/2+

Fun & Enjoyment: B

Overall: B 1/2+

Fun for Seniors

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 32 / 33
Date: November 10, 2006
Author: Amazon User

I purchased a Nintendo DS specifically for this game and was not disappointed. I'm 65 and on a good day can get my "brain age" into the 30s. I gave the game and a DS to an 80 year-old friend, and she can get into the 40s. We both struggle with the test that calls for memorizing from a list of words.

After learning to play Sudoku in Brain Age, I switched to playing it on my Palm Pilot (game from Astraware) which lets me enter the game from the daily newspaper. I've recently lent my DS to a 6th grader who is learning Sudoku. (By the way, avoid the DS game called "Sudoku". It's unnecessarily clunky for entering data.)

This is an appropriate game for seniors who like math/logic challenges even if they've never used a computer. Plan to spend some time tutoring a newbie, and then watch as he or she enjoys the challenge.

The game that plays you.

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 27 / 29
Date: May 02, 2006
Author: Amazon User

From the moment you begin playing Brain Age you'll realise that it's unlike any other experience. It's probably the only game ever made that begins with a doctor addressing you - a prominent Japanese neuroscientist to be exact. He asks a few quick questions to get the ball rolling as he scopes out your "brain age". It's kind of unnerving actually. After displaying a couple of brain scans in various states of activity (or inactivity), the doctor explains that your brain is like any muscle and will shrivel without exercise. Old brains are bad, young brains are good.

Once you pass the opening formalities the doctor runs you through a more rigourous series of tests (math problems, memorization drills, concentration sets...). The good doctor then assigns you your first daily brain age rank. If it's good (low) he'll congratulate you and encourage you to keep working hard. If it's bad (high) he'll chide you and issue a warning about the dangers of aging brains. As the game progresses he'll ask you random questions which contribute to your overall profile. This is where the genius of this game truly shines. Anyone could assemble a collection of mini math games and assorted brain teasers. Nintendo however has wrapped this all up in a diagnostic package. It feels like the game is studying you. Each day you log in the goal is clear and the feedback perfect. The interface is quick and simple, the touch screen works remarkably well and the voice recognition is a nice touch too.

I must lower my brain age!

The Brain Workout

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 27 / 29
Date: October 25, 2006
Author: Amazon User

Thinking. Analyzing. Solving Problems. Reading. Logic. These are just some of the skills that Brain Age will help you develop (or re-develop).

No, it's not Resident Evil or Splinter Cell. But it is as fun and addictive; it's certainly as challenging if not more challenging, and it's a nice pallet cleanser from the plethora of pure entertainment value games that my kids and I play.

Brain Age is a bit advanced at times for my grade schoolers, but the parts that they do get really help them develop the skills that they are concurrently working on in school. Big Brain Academy is a much easier (not better) alternative for younger children.

There's a daily training area that gives your skills a workout. And there's a test area that challenges you to quickly and accurately work through various tasks, then provides you with a calculation of your Brain Age based on how well you did on the test. Sudoku has it's own area to train the brain on number logic.

Kids reading this will NO vote me to death for saying this, but this is a great game for parents to get for their kids. It's one of the only ones (Big Brain Academy is the other) that I never take away from my own kids when they've misbehaved or simply just had too much video gaming. They never complain.

One word of advice: Brain Age has a hard time recognizing an "8" if you write it the way you'd skate a figure 8; it likes it better when you draw an 8 as two circles on top of each other.

Addictive fun. Buy it.


4 Rating: 4, Useful: 21 / 23
Date: November 29, 2006
Author: Amazon User

With the many outstanding features of the Brain Age game I would say it is one of the best DS games yet.
1:You turn the system sideways so it apears as it is a book.
2:You have a number of training quizes that you take daily to unlock more quizes and ultimately, to improve your brain age.
There are many more reasons that it is,(by my opinion),a 9 out of a possible 10. I sugest that you do not purchase this game at an early age. It is intended for seniors and I am only 10.( seriously.) I enjoy this game and sugest that you get it as soon as possible. If you could get 2 games for a DS, (by my opinion),this would definetly be one. You will not regret getting this game for yourself, or a present.
Sincerely, Parker222

Brain Mashing Fun!

5 Rating: 5, Useful: 17 / 17
Date: June 22, 2006
Author: Amazon User

I know what all of you hardcore videogamers are thinking... MATH! In a video game?!?! I myself LOVE to play video games, and Brain Age is pretty different from the games I play. It interested me though, and I took the plunge and got it. After the first 10 minutes I was addicted. Whether you're reading out loud, memorizing numbers or counting syllables, Brain Age is a great game. Training your brain isn't TOO stressful, and you get to see how old your brain is compared to your real age! Sorry to say, but I was the oldest you can be, 80, on the first day! Now I am 22, the best age is 20, and getting better all the time! As a bonus you can play suduko, a fun game involving numbers and grids.

Hope this helps you make your decision! TTFN!

Get ready for frustration

2 Rating: 2, Useful: 26 / 32
Date: June 20, 2006
Author: Amazon User

I don't play video games, but "Brain Age" seemed like a great idea and who among us doesn't need a little brain stimulation? So, I bought the Nintendo DS Lite exclusively for this game. I'm beginning to regret it.

$130 for the system + $20 for the game = $150 of irritation.

The DS Lite is great, so I'll probably end up buying more games simply to justify its purchase, because I don't know how long I can keep from smashing "Brain Age" into a thousand pieces.

The concept is great and the puzzles would be too, except for a less than impressive number and letter recognition. Prepare to change the way you write to accommodate the game, because this is crucial to your ranking scores and charting your progress as your acuity increases.

If this wasn't frustrating enough, one major "Brain Age" test relies on your ability to recognize and say the color the word is written in instead of what the word says. Example: The word "Black" pops up, but it is written in the color "Blue" so the user responds with "Blue". The only problem is the voice recognition on this game is TERRIBLE! It will only recognize the word "Blue" on occasion and sometimes not at all at which point the game gives you tips on how to talk to the game, but they never work.

So, in short you will spend most of your time on some puzzles and games simply trying to make the game understand what you're trying to input. I've been playing it for two weeks and it hasn't gotten any better, and I'm loosing my patience. According to Nintendo Support, I should just keep trying or skip the games/puzzles with which I'm having trouble (all the ones with known issues). Wow, thanks.

I would not recommend purchasing "Brain Age" until they come out with a version that can learn the speech and writing patterns of the user.

Fun, but not accurate and can be frustrating!

3 Rating: 3, Useful: 15 / 15
Date: June 23, 2006
Author: Amazon User

I really enjoy doing this game; however, I am taking the "brain age" score with a grain of salt. There is a Stroop Test, where a color name appears on the screen and it may, or may not, be a different color than the word (i.s. "Yellow" is colored blue). You need to say the actual color of the word. Everytime a word comes up in blue, the game doesn't recognize it and slows me down. I waste a good 5 seconds trying to get the game to understand me. And I speak clear English! I'm trying to figure out just the right amount of "BL" to use to get it to work.

Also, there is a Word Memory test where you're given a long list of 4-letter words to memorize in 2 minutes. Then you write as many of them as you can in 3 minutes. The game doesn't pick up your handwriting well. It returns an "X" when you write a "K", etc. AND it said a word I had wasn't on the list when it was!!!! You spend so much time trying to get it to recognize your letters and accept words that are there, that you forget all the words you had remembered!

The Suduko puzzles are great and I really like doing the speed "math" (simple addition, subtraction and multiplication).

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