The first Brain Age on the Nintendo DS spawned a whole generation of brain training games. Now they're back with Brain Age 2 - and I really feel they did a great job of enhancing the game's functionality!
First, the infamous "voice test". In Brain Age 1, it was the classic see-a-colored-word-say-the-color game that so many magazines and websites print. The big problem there was that blue and black always got confused. With this one, they changed it to rock-paper-scizzors. It's just as challenging, and we've never had any problems with it understanding us. Hurrah!
Next, the mini-games. I appreciated the challenge of the Brain Age 1 games, but they were pretty boring. They just weren't much fun to play, especially compared to some of the other games on the market.
They did a great job of revamping the games in Brain Age 2. Some of them are still on the boring side, like the 'running people' game where you try to figure out what place the dark player comes in. Most of them, though, are truly fun to play. The spinning letters game where you try to figure out what word they spell can be quite challenging. I love the piano game where you try to play along with the song.
There are the usual graphing options, so you can see your progress over time, and then the "brain age" with an ideal age of 20. Just like with the first game, I have to protest that it's a silly idea that your brain is best at 20. Your brain can easily be very slow at 20 and much better at 30! They should rate it as a 0% to 100%, rather than pushing this idea that youth is best. What's next, a diet program that gets you to weigh the weight of an "ideal 20 year old"?
Still, it is certainly valid that the more you use your brain, the better it gets. Everyone needs to keep their brains exercised and fresh. Playing this game is far better than sitting back and passively watching TV all night. Best of all, you can bring this along with you and increase your brain power while you ride the bus, wait in line, and do other boring tasks!
on August 26, 2007
I have to say I like Brain Age 2 more than I liked the original. I found the first version of the game frustrating (yet still engaging) because the handwriting recognition and voice recognition to be problematic.
This new version seems to have improved immensely. I see a few reviews here inidcating that some users are having problems with voice recognition, but that's not what I am experiencing with the game. The Rock, Paper, Scissors game is working flawlessly for me, unless I stutter, stammer, or someone says something in the background. I especially like that the game requires you to answer with EITHER a correct or incorrect answer! Furthermore, I have absolutely awful handwriting, yet the game is doing an excellent job recognizing my chicken scratch!
Best of all, the game is addictive and has me playing constantly. I'm a fan of games like Brain Age and Big Brain Academy where you ultimately compete against yourself to improve your score (or compete against others if you are so inclined). There are enough challenging mini-games (including sudoku) to keep the game interesting for quite awhile. It is certainly worth the price!
However, it would be a mistake to believe these games are any REAL indication of innate cognitive skill and performance. The game claims to help make your brain more agile and that may be possible. Research is, in fact, showing the benefits for people to continue to solve puzzles, read, and perform other complex cognitive tasks to stave off the effects of mental aging and even help recovery from brain injury. I think Brain Age will improve mental agility, but players should not be discouraged if their initial scores are not high. This is a GAME first and foremost, not an IQ test. Play it and enjoy it!! If your brain becomes more efficient at processing information consider it a bonus of playing a very enjoyable game.
Brain Age 2, like the original Brain Age, is still the best Sudoku game available on the Nintendo DS. It makes excellent use of both screens (no wasted space or tiny, hard to see numbers that plague other "dedicated" Sudoku games on the DS). As I said in my review of the original Brain Age, I wish Nintendo would come out with a dedicated Sudoku game on the DS using this layout. They could rake in a lot of extra cash.
As far as the "main event", I pretty much agree with what the other reviewers have posted here.
I haven't unlocked all of the games yet, but so far, "Word Scramble" is my favorite.
Some of the new games are improved variations of the original games. "Memory Sprint", where you try to keep track of what place a race runner is in, is more fun than the original game of counting how many people go into and out of a house.
I also like the "Change Maker" and "Sign Finder" games, because they provide some real world practice, although some people may find them boring, or too much like homework.
The "Piano Player" game was a disappointment, because everybody here seemed to be talking it up, including keyboard players, and that's a bit scary because this type of "follow the bouncing ball" music game is available on just about any cheap electronic keyboard out there.
The "Word Blend" game is lost on me - you do need to concentrate to separate the simultaneously spoken words, but it seems to ultimately be a test of one's hearing (and patience).
My major gripes with the Brain Age series are:
1. Like other reviewers have said, the "scoring" implies that a younger brain must be better than an older brain. This is misleading and insulting. If Dr. Kawashima had a hand in this aspect of the game design, well, he needs to grow up a bit.
2. There's too much Dr. Kawashima! Even in "Quick Play" mode, there's "too much fuss" to paraphrase the good Doctor. I don't want to have to tap past the same screens of the Doctor telling me what's good for my brain umpteen times. I just want to play the dang game!
Still, there are worse ways to blow a few idle minutes every day than playing games like Brain Age.
Brain Age 2 offers more of the same this time around, and if you played the original, surprise smash hit for the DS, then you'll know that this isn't a bad thing. Brain Age 2 supplies just what the cover of the box says it does: it's more training for your brain. The game is easy to get into for newcomers and veterans alike thanks to offering the same, simple structure as before while offering new takes on the mini-games themselves. Combine that with some solid multiplayer capabilities, more great sudoku, and much more complicated math problems; and Brain Age 2 ends up being a winner. The biggest flaw of Brain Age 2 however remains left over from the first game: the handwriting and speech recognition features are still somewhat shaky. That aside though, Brain Age 2 succeeds by following the same formula as before: addictive gameplay, clean presentation, and a budget price; and in those departments alone, Brain Age 2 is worth checking out.
Brain Age was quite the success on the DS. At the time of its release it was something quite new and unique. An interactive puzzle experience. The game was followed up later with Big Brain Academy and that was also pretty good. Now we've got Brain Age 2 which is more or less an expansion to the first one.
The mini-games here are fun and addictive much like the first one. A lot of it actually comes from the first game but now they've added more twists to the games or updated some of them. Not every mini-game is a winner, but if you liked the first Brain Age game, then this one should satisfy. These mini-games are quite a challenge too. Especially because some of the "twists" they threw into these games really actually makes you start thinking, or better yet, memorizing things.
Nintendo also threw in some multi-player this time. You and your friends can compete and it only takes one card to do so. The rest of your friends just have to bring their DS along.
The two biggest problems of the first Brain Age still exists here however. Games that require you to speak or games that require you to write don't always work in your favor. You could say the correct answer but for some reason the game won't "hear" you correctly and you'll get it wrong and get penalized. Just the same when it comes to handwriting simulation games it might not be able to "read" your handwriting. It's actually pretty annoying and you're unfairly penalized for it.
Despite that, however, Brain Age 2 is still a fun game and a great follow up to the first game. If you liked the first one, chances are the second one will be enjoyable as well.
on September 8, 2007
I have played and owned both Brain Age 1 and Brain Age 2 and actively use(d) both of them. I am 20 years old.
I won't point out any other reviewers by name, but it annoys me that people give this product a bad review because its "boring" or because they're "not getting any smarter." And then, they go on to compare it to games that aren't in the same genre or "style" that games like Brain Age were made for. All I am saying is that, before buying this product, know that it is not your average VIDEO GAME. It serves a different purpose by opening the DS to users of all ages. Brain Age is not supposed to "make you smarter" in any sense at all. If you read what Dr. Kawashima says in the game, the game was developed to keep your brain HEALTHY by exercising it with these challenges, thus allowing more blood flow and a HEALTHIER brain (not a smarter brain.) So yes, your average video game fanatic might find it to be less exciting, but just know before you buy it what you're actually buying it for. This is a "tool," in a sense, that will help your brain stay fit.
Brain Age 2 is a good continuation to the first in the sense that it includes more games and is more challenging. In the first Brain Age, I was getting Age 20 (the best score) all the time. In this one, I have been getting between 20-27 most of the time. I find this as a helpful way to know that while my brain may be fit, theres room for improvement. I gave it a 4 instead of a 5 because I think there might be too much number games as opposed to word games. (number games featuring arithmetic problems.) And I feel that all of my work and recordings in Brain Age 1 are now worthless. I was hoping that there was some way to integrate my old recordings of the first game into this new one. That being said, Brain Age 2, while an excellent, easy-to-use tool, is more of a "replacement" for brain age 1 as opposed to a "sequel."
Last year, gamers really started to go wild for the Nintendo DS all over again. Not just because of the DS which was redesigned into the DS Lite, but a whole new era of mental challenge games attracted new gamers young and old. Mainly, with Brain Age, the Nintendo DS got older gamers into the scheme of gaming and excitement from verbal memory games, to introducing Su Doku, the challenging puzzle game that have really made gamers go wild. Unfortunately, there have been many knockoffs to Brain Age like Mind Quiz for the PSP, that really haven't delivered and attracted the feeling that Brain Age delivered. Now, a sequel to the original mind bender that started it all, returns to the Nintendo DS, but is it good as it was before, or falls short on memory?
Brain Age 2 for the Nintendo DS tackles on more exciting puzzles than before. The gameplay is expanded nicely, but there are also a lot of changes to the gameplay here in the game. The first main change is that a lot of the verbal games like the color strooping exam were removed, because there were a lot of problems with the microphone use in the game. Instead, there are a lot more games that feed off nicely from Nintendo's other DS mind-bender Big Brain Academy here, where you have to comprehend how much you have to give back as change in dollars and cents, to memorizing a song on a piano. Another new game is called word wheel, where you have a series of letters spinning around, and you have to fill in the exact word, one letter at a time. There are also a few things that have returned here, including the picture drawing challenges, but especially the Su Doku puzzles, withe over 100 new puzzles to test your mind. The graphics are just as simple as they were before, but the gameplay is just even more addictive than it has been before, and the control also handles that just as well.
All in all, with so many mental games in the video game market right now, Brain Age 2 really does deliver nicely for the Nintendo DS. If you haven't tackled the challenges before, you may want a new mind-reading workout. I loved the original one, and I really like the new addictive challenges. I absolutely suggest you buy this sequel, and keep that brain sharp.
Sound: B 1/2+
Fun & Enjoyment: B+
on November 24, 2007
My son left "Brain Age" at a friend's house, never to be seen again (the game, not the son). We bought this "Brain Age 2" as a replacement, and the games are just not as appealing as the first version of Brain Age.
The Rock/Paper/Scissors is really interesting and keeps you on your toes because the wrong answer is required (paper loses to rock!)
but there is no "word match" where you're given a long list of words to recall later (my absolutely favorite game) and there's no more
"fast math" to add/multiply numbers in 25 seconds, that the first game offers.
We miss those games.
Too bad the first edition could not have been enhanced to fix the voice recognition on the colormatching, and added the newer games,
instead of entirely replacing the whole thing.
Brain Age II doesn't allow adding your previous scores, and have to start the whole scoring and tracking thing anew. Not something we old brains are good at.
on October 1, 2007
Just a little humor there - look at the package, the two is a superscript so I like to call it Brain Age squared!
At any rate, this is a wonderful addition to the original Brain Age with some more brain sharpening tools. The same explanation is there at the beginning, i.e. the one where the host presents pictures of MRI images of the brain at "idle", while figuring out a difficult math problem and while reading or working simple problems. It's worth noting that the brain working simple math problems or reading aloud demonstrated more activity on the MRI scans. That said, working out the brain does not have to be difficult or super frustrating and can indeed be fun.
There are some clever additions such as identifying which mathematical symbol belongs in an equation. Again, these are not difficult problems and the goal is to recognize what symbol is needed FAST - just as jogging or doing some other form of exercise daily, these little work-outs keep the mind sharp.
The addition of "Making change" is brilliant! We need more activities like this - not only is this brain sharpening, it is something that can be used in every day life when making purchases. Of note, this reviewer does this regularly - whenever paying for something, my own little game is seeing if I can figure out the change before the clerk tells me (without cheating by looking at their computer)!
The piano playing addition is enjoyable albeit having been a musician for years, I might have just a bit of an edge over a non musician. Nevertheless, I love the connection between music and the mind and hope to see more research in this area.
Admittedly, I have not tried anything that requires the voice. I was disapointed in that regard with the first go round but since I have not tried it, I cannot comment on the quality. Another reviewer comments that it seemed to go well.
Finally, there are new Sudoku puzzles and a new addiiton, virus busters, kind of like tetris in a way. The game instructs that this is not meant for training but more for relaxing. Rather enjoyable once you get the swing of it - your mind works by strategizing where to place the "capsules" and just how to turn them.
Contratulations and kudos to the developers of this fine software - it's a wonderful addition.
on December 9, 2008
What I Liked:
- The games did seem to improve my daily concentration and memorization skills. Since I'm 27, I can't honestly say that my mind was in really bad shape to begin with. But after using this daily for a month and a half, I do feel like it's sharpened my skills.
- The daily badges were a fun reward, and I actually looked forward to them.
- I seem to be better with calculating math in my head. There is also a game that gives you 2 minutes to memorize the order of 25 numbers. That starts out feeling like an impossible task, but over time I've learned tricks to train my brain to group them in memorable ways. That's probably my favorite one.
What I Disliked:
- I don't know if this is a flaw with Nintendo or the game itself, but sometimes it does not recognize my writing. This really frustrates me because my score is lowered even though I answered correctly.
- When an answer is wrong (see above), I am punished with a loud buzz. This sends a shocking jolt to my brain and causes me to miss the next few answers because it bothers me so much. It just seems unnecessary. Now I can only play the games when they are muted.
- Speaking of sound effects, when you perform poorly, you are punished with a type of jeering music that really grates my nerves. It's like a cartoon sound effect. Let's be adults here. The Doc adds insult to injury by saying "Your brain is very tired"
- I've played this game every night at about 1AM, and you'd think by now the system would have a way to figure out that I work at night. But no... instead, the Doc tells me how bad I am for "staying up too late" every single night. I guess that's supposed to be cute, but it's not. Some people work night shifts. This feature needs to be eliminated, or else made smarter to figure out that I log-on at the same time each night.
- I also have to tap through screen after screen of the Doc's failed attempts at humor just to get to my daily sessions. There should be a setting to automatically skip any commentary.
Over time, the negative comments, condescending music, and jolting sound effects have made me really hate this game. It started out as something fun and educational. I can honestly say it worked well at first. Unfortunately I just can't see myself using this daily for more than a few months because of all the small annoyances about it.