Pin It
Favorite

The Player 

by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Brain Age; Rated Everyone; Nintendo DS & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's time for another age. The New Age is old. The Space Age is getting us nowhere and the Machine Age has gone digital. We could be in for a New Middle Age given the sheer number of aged Age of Aquarians. Another Dark Age has been predicted by such ancient sources as the book of Revelation and Yale professor Harold Bloom. At least "Brain Age" has a positive ring to it.


Alas, Brain Age from Nintendo has no interest in defining an epoch of mankind. The game is based around the research of a Japanese neuroscientist named Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, who appears in Brain Age as a talking 3D head, modeled with so many flat surfaces it looks like an expressive 20-sided die. This digital monstrosity informs me that a person doing something is using their brain more than a person doing nothing. Duh.


In order to "train" my brain ("in Minutes a Day!" the game's box screams), I'm asked to quickly scrawl the answers to questions such as 9-8=? and 4x4=? on the DS's touch screen. This is fine as long as the system distinguishes a '4' from a '9,' which it doesn't always do. The voice recognition software also tends to confuse the word 'blue' with 'black,' which is a major failure in another activity that asks me to name four different colors aloud as they appear onscreen.


This isn't a videogame, it's a grade school. And like grade school, Brain Age tries to make a character-building experience out of reading, writing, and 'rithmetic with little success. Depending on how well I perform at the game's tedious activities, such as reading aloud or counting the number of syllables in a sentence, I'm given a brain age. This -- the game's score -- is obtained with "values obtained through functional monitoring of the prefrontal cortex." This snake-oil sales pitch is less believable than most videogame plots.


According to the doctor, a brain reaches its peak at age 20, which is perhaps not coincidentally the age at which Americans are last legally sober. My personal brain age, after starting stratospherically older than my real age, gradually approached, and then dropped below it. My progress proved that if I keep doing something, I get better at it. If Brain Age, with its simplistic puzzles and mindless activities, were actually able to measure and improve the health of my brain, then the thousands of video games that offer actual challenges and genuine fun would usher in a Game Age. Our minds would expand, our hand-eye coordination would skyrocket and we would never play anything as foolish as Brain Age.





THE GOOD: Brain Age includes hundreds of Sudoku puzzles (unrelated to the brain training) with a wonderful, easy-to-use interface on the DS's touch screen. The better news is that there are several other Sudoku games coming soon for the DS, with none of Brain Age attached.





THE BAD: Nintendo seems to enjoy creating gimmicks (Nintendogs) and fads (Pok & eacute;mon) as much as the company enjoys producing games. Brain Age is a little bit of all three, and it comes across with as much panache as a late-night infomercial.





THE BOTTOM LINE: Train your brain in minutes a day: Read a book.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Cherry Pitfalls
  • Cherry Pitfalls

    Why fruit is rotting on trees while workers wait at the border
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • The Real Threats
  • The Real Threats

    What worries Spokane's sheriff; plus, Washington's lawmakers finally hash out a budget
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Party of Five?
  • Party of Five?

    Why Spokane County's newest commissioner is leading the fight to add two more
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Northwest Mounted Shooting

Northwest Mounted Shooting @ Kootenai County Fairgrounds

Through July 5

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • The Rachel We Knew

    EDITOR'S NOTE: How Rachel Dolezal came to write for the Inlander
    • Jun 18, 2015
  • The Real Rachel Dolezal

    The story goes far beyond just a white woman portraying herself as black
    • Jun 17, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation