Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? (Nintendo DS)
If you're bored of playing games that don't stretch your brain cells and you'd like to give your grey matter an extensive workout pick up this program...
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Review of "Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? (Nintendo DS)"
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After seeing countless TV adverts in the past few weeks showing me games that could actually improve and exercise my brain, namely Big Brain Academy and Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training, I decided to take the plunge and buy one to see what the fuss was all about. In the end I opted for Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training as after reading reviews it sounded like a better choice for the older gamer. Never mind that I didn't actually own a Nintendo DS at the time!I ordered it off Amazon.co.uk for the fabulous price of £17.99 and in 2 days it arrived on my doorstep, giving me time to buy the console to play it on.
Who is Dr. Kawashima I hear you ask?
Well a quick search on google tells me that he is a Japanese neuroscientist whose research involves mapping the regions of the brain to certain human faculties and then applying this information to aid children to develop, aging people to retain, and patients to recover their learning facilities.
After his book on this subject released in 1994 became a huge success it was only a matter of time before technology adapted his work and made it into something easier and more fun that picking up a book.
Well the first strange thing I noticed when I loaded the game is that the game loaded sideways! The game is nearly all stylus based and for this reason the user holds the DS like a book rather than a joypad. In addition to the main control of the stylus used on the touch screen, voice recognition, via the mic, is also another control option. The touch screen is at the right for right handed people and the left for lefties. Very ingenious!
Dr Kawashima greets us at the title screen, well a pixellated version anyway, and if it is your first play he will ask you some personal information (nothing too personal!) so he can create you a save file to save your daily scores and achievements. He'll also ask you to create a signature for him to use when he wants to speak to you and for the top 3 tables.
Once this is done Kawashima's head will return with four options to choose from.
The best mode to choose for friends and family as they don't have to input any personal information to play. Perfect for my family as they all try and steal it while I'm not looking! Touching this option will present you with 3 more options to choose from:
Quick Brain Age Check - This option takes the user into a Stroop Test, an activity where words will appear on screen of different colours but you must say the actual colour of the text and NOT the word into the microphone at the front e.g. the word blue will appear in red text so you say red. I find this game very difficult at times, as in addition to getting your colours mixed up, it more often than not can't understand the word 'blue' when I or any of my family say it! When the test is over the Dr will give the Age of your brain to you - rounded to the nearest 10. For a more detailed age he advises the full Brain Age Check (which I'll get to later)
Quick Training - To keep the brain working well it needs to be trained. This option gives you 20 calculations to complete. You write the answers on the touch screen using its handwriting recognition technology. I normally have no trouble with this, so long as your handwriting is fairly neat it should understand what you are trying to write.
Quick Sudoku - Everyones favourite game! This will pick you a puzzle at random for you to complete, again using the stylus so make sure that handwriting is good!
Ok so when you've completed them, or your friends have got bored or had enough, grab the console and try clicking on…
Got to the game at last! Ok so this is the main part of the game. This part comprises of a whole set of tests which will give you your brain age down to the exact year.
Before starting the actual training I recommend the training to get those dusty brain cells out of retirement and working again! Training
Training will give you 4 activities to start of with
- Calculations x 20 - 20 Maths problems appear on the display screen, and the answer should be written on the touch screen with the Stylus. Relatively easy game to play.
- Calculations x 100 - Same as Calculations x20 except there are 100 problems! Still easy but takes much longer to play.
- Reading Aloud - read out the passage shown on screen until you reach the end. The amount of syllables per second will be shown at the end. The more the better
- Low to High - numbers will appear in the place of boxes on screen. Click the boxes where the numbers were from the lowest to highest number.
Every day a new stamp can be obtained for the calendar on the display screen, once Daily Training and a training activity are completed. Stamps can unlock more options, difficulties, and games. Such as:
- Syllable Count
- Head Count (and its hard mode)
- Triangle math
- Time Lapse
- Voice Calculation
- Stamp Designer
These tests are designed to get your Prefrontal Cortex, which is the control tower of the brain, determining how you use your stored knowledge in practical situations, working efficiently. I feel a definate improvement in my memory and way of thinking after using this for the past 2 weeks.
Once you think your brain is ready and your raring to go give the Dailt Training a try. This option produces you with 3 random tests designed to determine your Brain age. these tests include -
- Word memory - you are produced with 30 words between both screens with 2 minutes to memorise them and 3 minutes to write them down on the touch screen. it sometimes can be hard for it to dtermine your handwriting but this is my favourite activity - best I've got is 19.
- Calculations x 20 - same as training version. Answer 20 maths problems
- Connect maze - Connect the letters and numbers on screen e.g. A>1, B>2 to M>13 without touching any other. Quite easy.
- Number Cruncher - numbers will appear on the display screen, read the question relating to the numbers on screen and write in the answer.
- Stroop Test - same as training version.
- Speed Counting - Count from 1 to 120 as quickly as possible, but also clearly.
After each game a Top 3 table will pop up and if you are good enough your signature can be seen in the top spots. There is also an animation after each one depending on your speed of completion e.g. walking, cycling, car, train, jet plane and rocket. (If you click on them they make sounds, the walker plays mario!)
At the end of the 3 tests, kawashima will produce your final score - your Brain Age.
The best age anyone can get is 20 , although I'm not sure of the worst. It is easy for someone of my age to get 20 (as I have done twice) but the only annoying thing is that the game is meant for people over 20 and as I am 19 it doesn't really give a fair view.
If you like you can review your results day to day, month by month and even compare them with up to three other players. Each activity has a graph to track your ups and downs and also an individual graph for the brain Training.
This section just includes Settings to change your left or right hand and things basically to make using the game easier, Signature - to change your original signature if you so wish, Stamp Design- change your stamp for the calendar to anything you like instead of the OK symbol, and tips, which displays all the tips the Dr has been so kind to give to you.
Ok so everyone knows about this game now since Carol Vorderman made it so popular. There are 3 difficulties to choose from basic, Intermediate and Advanced (which has to be Unlocked). There are 36 puzzles in each difficulty with four tutorial levels to get you started.
Numbers are inputted using the stylus - click on the desired square, write it in and zoom out to check if its correct or not. Easy peasy! I love playing Sudoku since I got this, I cant put it down! I think the game is worth the money I paid just for the Sudoku puzzles.
I've never used this as I don't have any friends with a DS but you have the opportunity to play against other players in a Calculation Battle and you can even send them a Demo of the game if they don't have it but have a DS.
Sound - the range of sounds isnt large but the sound is of good quality and makes good use of the speakers with cute little melodies and beeps celebrating completion of tasks.
Graphics - Not really a lot of detail in anything as its mostly all text and numbers. Dr Kawashima does look a lot like his pixellated face though!
So is it worth buying???
YES!!! Go buy it! This is one of those must have games. If everyone is not talking about it already they soon will be.
The game is very playable and I don't think I'll ever get bored of it. There are lots of varied tasks so theres something for everyone to enjoy no matter what age. Some tasks are harder than others but that's what makes it so enjoyable to play.
Sudoku has fast become my favourite past-time and I'm forever trying to beat my score. As I said above I would have been happy to pay the money just to have the Sudoku games!
I like seeing how well my brain is working each day and love to beat my brother and sisters times and scores on the chart!!
The game is available from many online sites and most of them are around the £17 - £20 mark, even cheaper if they are used. It's a Bargain whatever price you pay for it.Go on - treat your brain! Tips
- On the title screen if you talk to the doctor he'll make some funny faces at you! Try saying 'Glasses Glasses'
- Try pressing select while touching some of the options on the top screen. You never know where you'll turn up!
Product Information : Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? (Nintendo DS)
Manufacturer's product descriptionIf you're bored of playing games that don't stretch your brain cells and you'd like to give your grey matter an extensive workout pick up this program. The tests have been devised in cooperation with Dr. Kawashima himself a renowned neuroscientist. With Brain Training you can train both your mental awareness and your memory. Hold the DS vertically like a book and write your answers with the stylus on the touch screen. The exercises are quick challenges that help stimulate your brain. There's a combination of arithmetic reading and memory tests and the program calculates your score in the form of a 'brain age' by assessing the speed and accuracy by which you perform these simple tasks.
Release Date: 9th June 2006
Genre: Puzzle; Educational/Training
Max Number of Players: 16 Player
Platform: Nintendo DS
Listed on Ciao since: 31/07/2006