Brain Age Express: Math DS Review
One of the more interesting characters to hit the gaming scene in recent years has been Dr. Ryuta Kawashima. Dr. Kawashima made a career of mapping brain activity to see how it reacts to different emotions and challenges, and he was asked by Nintendo to create the popular Brain Age series. While the merits of his scientific findings are better left for educational journals, this review of Brain Age Express: Math for Nintendo DSi will focus just on the game and its different features. If you get smarter or dumber because of his game, that's up to an IQ test to decide.
What we can decide is whether or not Brain Age Express: Math is worth 800 Nintendo points ($8). As the most expensive game released in the DSi shop, we were hoping this wasn't just a complete retread of the math games found in the Brain Age series. For the most part, it is, but the game offers enough extras to make it worth the asking price.
The core game mechanic comes in periodic tests that assign your brain a certain age. The lower the age (up to 20), the healthier your brain. To work your brain up to its peak performance, the game offers training in the form of math-based mini games. These games range from arithmetic of simple equations to filling in the missing sign in a formula (i.e. "5 ? 5 = 25" with the answer being the multiplication symbol).
These mini games are where you'll spend the most time, and they make math as fun as it can be, which is not very, but you may be surprised at how often you come back to challenge your best times. Accuracy and speed are of supreme importance, and each day you train earns you a stamp on your calendar. Keep up with it and you'll earn new rewards and hopefully reduce your brain age.
For those who don't see the fun in math, Nintendo included a few creative elements to the game. In previous Brain Age games, Dr. Kawashima would have you take an occasional break and ask you to draw a picture like a zebra or panda. In Brain Age Express: Math, this feature is separated into an option all its own so you can relax your math-addled brain whenever you want.
This feature has also been expanded to utilize the DSi camera and microphone in creative ways. For example, clicking on the Acting theme will ask you to pose a certain way (i.e. "Pose like your jamming to your favorite karaoke song") and it'll snap a photo of you.
These photos, along with your drawings and vocal recordings, are stored on your DSi for future perusal, and if multiple users play the game, you'll occasionally view their creative works. The game eventually unlocks a slideshow mode to show off everyone's odd poses and drawings, and it even allows you to transfer these images to your SD card for uploading onto your computer.
If you're a Brain Age veteran, you know what to expect. If you're new to the series, the price of admission is just right and worth a shot. Along with Bird & Beans, Brain Age Express: Math totals to exactly 1000 Nintendo points, or exactly the amount of free points Nintendo gives every new owner of a Nintendo DSi until October 5th.
What's Hot: Dr. Kawashima is a very charming man with some new DSi tricks up his sleeve.
What's Not: Nintendo reused modes from previous Brain Age games.