After undergoing days of rigorous mental exercise, we feel qualified to recommend caution when considering Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima (he of Brain Age fame). While Brain Exercise will supposedly help you sharpen your mind, the experience isn’t as finely honed as it could be.
Brain trainers like this claim to stimulate your mind by subjecting you to a series of timed tests that usually involve basic math or concentration puzzles. These tests are presented daily, and the game tracks your results over time so you can monitor your progress. A lower brain age signals a younger, more agile mind.
To succeed at any type of mental exercise game, you need to really get in the “zone” when you’re answering the questions. You’re almost always reacting to them by instinct instead of slowly thinking about the correct answer. Unfortunately, Brain Exercise never really allows you to get into that state of mind.
You lose! Good day sir!
Simply put, the input system is clumsy. The Brain Age titles on the Nintendo DS were successful because they were easy to play. Anyone could pick up the stylus and scratch out answers on the touchscreen like they were writing on a piece of paper.
Brain Exercise doesn’t give you this option, instead forcing you to use two rows of five small buttons numbered 0-9. This unfamiliar button placement forced us to really think about what numbers we were inputting as we worked, increasing our time and our brain age in the process. Over time we became more accustomed to answering the questions without hesitation, but there was always that disconnect between us and the iPhone that never quite existed on the Nintendo handheld.
Feature-wise, the game offers a decent selection of exercises to keep you busy, but for the $5.99 asking price, even more would be appreciated. An unlockable Sudoku game offers a bit more to do once you’ve completed your daily tests, which only take a few minutes and cannot be done more than once per day.
Give this game a 2 and call us in the morning.
You can practice the different exercises for fun as often as you’d like, but this is a game designed to be played for a few minutes a day over the course of a couple months. A multiplayer, pass-the-device mode is also available, and a decent diversion if you want to show up your friends.
If you feel like getting shown up yourself, there are online leaderboards that track a variety of stats to prove that you, in fact, are not the smartest person in the world. Unfortunately, like they are throughout the rest of the game, the menus in this mode are clumsily implemented and difficult to navigate.
Overall, Brain Exercise with Dr. Kawashima is a passable option for keeping your mind in top shape. We just wouldn’t call it a smart choice.