Review: Brain Age 2

by Staff February 14, 2008 @ 11:45 am

For many, the idea of adult education may be something of a misnomer. Why would anyone want to go back to school later in life? Many schemes have been suggested to entice learners back into education. However, whilst governments provide financial incentives for mature learners Nintendo have managed to get them to pay for the privilege of learning on their portable game platform.

The original Brain Age game was a revolution. It was one of the first titles that really grabbed the imagination of the populace at large and saw the DS spread its wings into those long discussed blue skies markets of the casual gamer. Not only did it sell by the bucket load, but it also (re)positioned the DS as something more than a kiddie toy. It could now be sold as a self improvement tool. Was it not for Brain Age the “Touch! Generations” range for the DS would not have the kudos it does today.
So we come to Brain Age 2. Obviously keen to capitalize and extend the success of the first game, we have another set of similar activities. The routine here is very similar to the previous outing. Each game is well presented and focuses on a particular area of the brain. Before you get started the professor outlines the task ahead with some useful examples.

The range of activities here has been expanded upon since the last game. Whereas the first set of exercises focused largely on logical and mathematical skill, there is an expanded focus on creative and intuitive abilities. This is best seen in the musical accompaniment activity. Here you are presented with a piano keyboard and a musical score and tasked with tapping out the right notes in time with the backing track. The first run through this activity (for the less musically talented) usually ends in chaos. However, after a few goes you start to leaner how to read the progressions in the music and before too long a tune starts to emerge. The faltering stop-start notes really do sound like a little kid learning to play the piano. The whole experience is most enjoyable and leaves you wanting more. Something that has to wait until the following day to pick up a better grade.

Graphically, the game employs suitable restraint. Its paired down visuals perfectly accompany the various tasks. As with the first game, this enables you to focus on the activity in hand rather than being distracted by complex screen layouts. Again not an awful lot has moved on from the previous game. But hey, if it ain’t broke why fix it. What tweaks to the layout there have been all contribute to the overall polish of the game.

The musically backing and various sound effects are as much a part of the Brain Age experience as the visuals. To this end Brain Age 2 draws on the same musical talents as the first game. Various musical themes reappear and will remind fans of the series of those classic Brain Training moments trying to squeeze one last sum out before the time runs out. Additionally, Brain Age 2 sports the same impressive plinks and plonks to ground the tapping and stroking of the stylus. Although its not until you don a pair of headphones that you can really appreciate this attention to detail, even without them on these effects really add to the polished feel of the game.

Overall, this is another big addition to the Touch1 Generations catalog. It tackles the wide demographic of its audience with confidence and style. Every one from your kid brother to your grand parents will feel right at home here.

– Great presentation
– More great head scratching tasks
– More of the Professors quirky humor

– Too similar to the previous game
– Limited shelf life once the novelty has worn off.