Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes A Day! Review / Preview for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Brain Age: Train Your Brain In Minutes A Day! Review / Preview for the Nintendo DS (NDS)

Brain Age makes Edu-tainment fun…for the first time ever. by Cole Smith

April 13, 2006 – For those of you that believe that you may have suffered irreversible brain damage from playing mindless shooters and watching too many episodes of Nick and Jessica, help is on the way. There’s no doubt that you’ve suffered brain damage, but thanks to Brain Age, it is irreversible.

The slogan for Brain Age is: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. I know it sounds like work, but this is way more fun than flossing. It’s like playing a bunch of puzzle-based mini-games. As long as you still have the capacity to learn, you will get better at these challenges each time that you play them and thus you will train your brain.

You begin with a test to determine your brain age. You will receive a score that you can think of as a relative IQ level. The older your brain age, the worse off you are. You don’t want to have the mind of the average 70-year old, but it can be a real shocker when you find that out. However, your brain age will become younger over the days and weeks as you play this game.

Now here’s the bad news, there is math involved. Yes, you will have to perform some calculations. None of them are exceptionally hard and it’s nothing that you haven’t done in school. It’s just that you might not remember your multiplication table if you’ve been out of school for a while and do everything with a computer or calculator. I didn’t do very good on the math at first but after a few days it comes back to you. You really do have all the resources to do well in this game, it’s just a matter or retrieving those old files that might be buried in a sludge of gray matter. Now here’s the good news, you are limited to playing this game for only five minutes a day.

The gameplay is based on the theories of Japanese neuroscientist, Dr. Ryuta Kawashima who believes that these exercises will stimulate somewhat dormant areas of the brain. Nourishing oxygen is then introduced to these regions which are stimulated by these challenges, allowing them to become more functional in your day-to-day activity. As these newly stimulated regions become linked, your brain will become a much more powerful tool.

The DS is held sideways so that it opens like a book. You will make use of all the controls as well as the touch screen and the stylus which is used for drawing and writing. When writing the correct answers or numbers, you might find that the CPU doesn’t recognize some of your handwriting. This could be due to poor spelling and poor handwriting. In any case if you continue to play the game in the nature that it was intended, your spelling and handwriting will show signs of improvements. I found the other controls functioned perfectly.

The math segment is basically a drill. You’ll be shown several simple equations that you have to solve. There is a speed element to it so you’ll eventually train yourself to be faster and more accurate. You’ll notice that you improve a lot quicker if you have an audience, or better yet, some competition. Up to 16 players can take part in the various tests. Brain Age also comes with a version of the popular puzzle game Sudoku. It’s a popular number-based game similar to a crossword puzzle. You have a series of grids, nine rows by nine columns. Each puzzle begins with some numbers appearing in various grids. You have to fill in the empty grids with numbers from one to nine without repeating any in either the corresponding row or column. There is only one number that will fit into each of the 81 grids. It can really bust your brain. In yet another math game you will have to keep track of the number of people at a party, as they come and go.

There’s more to Brain Age than just math games. In another test you will have to memorize as many four-letter words as you can in two minutes. You will also have to memorize sequences of numbers. There are dots to connect, syllables to count, differences to detect and even a segment which will have you read out loud. Apparently reading out loud is very brain stimulating. Here, try reading this out loud: “Why am I so #~*&+%$ dumb?” Say it again, this time louder. What word did you use in place of all those symbols? Say that word again, but louder. Go ahead, scream it…

At first some of these challenges might seem almost impossible. Numbers race past, sequences and questions are popping up all over the place, but it’s something you’ll get used to in a few days. Kawashima is the game’s genial, genius host. He guides you through the series of tests and helps explain why it’s important to stimulate your Prefrontal Cortex. Maybe if I play the game long enough I’ll know what that is.

Like the writing recognition software, the voice recognition system is pretty darn good. It’s not perfect and it can be particularly frustrating when you do have the right answer, or read the text perfectly, and the system fails to register it. You will usually find that you have to speak slowly and enunciate more clearly. It’s not a big deal to get used to in the long run.

The multi-player mode is fun for competition and while it can be inspiring, it’s not all that interesting and you’ll tire of it quite quickly. The replay value is in the single-player mode. The game will keep track of your stats and you’ll be able to see how much you’ve improved. I’ve only been at it for a few days and I’m already seeing some improvement. I did twice as good as last time – I got two answers right instead of one…


  • Brain Age presents players with a series of mental brain-training challenges that incorporate word memorization, counting and reading.
  • Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day for Nintendo DS is a fun, rewarding form of entertainment everyone can enjoy, as it helps players flex their mental muscles.
  • Brain Age is inspired by the research of Professor Ryuta Kawashima, a prominent Japanese neuroscientist. His studies evaluated the impact of performing certain reading and mathematic exercises to help stimulate the brain.
  • Features voice recognition and handwriting recognition.
  • Come with the popular newspaper puzzle game, Sudoku.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

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