I’m mostly done with Brain Age now: I’ve unlocked everything, and while I think I’ll finish all the sudoku and might still do a few more rounds of some of the other exercises, I’m starting to get bored of it. (But I still want to try to get 12 on Low to High, or get all 30 on Word Memory!)

Fun, and Liesl’s been playing it as much as I have. Not your standard console game – it and its sequels are a big reason why the DS has been reaching an unusually old demographic in Japan. It’s made up of various puzzles, some “training” and some “brain age tests”, plus a decent sudoku interface. You hold the DS on its side, so it opens up like a notebook; you write on the right side (or sometimes speak into the microphone), with information on the left side.

Some of the puzzles, are pretty good, some of them so-so, some of them boring. (Speed reading is bad enough, but counting out loud from 1 to 120?) The handwriting recognition works well enough (but by no means perfectly); the voice recognition is adequate, but didn’t add anything to the game.

The most pleasant surprises were the little bits thrown in aside from the game play. For example, the second time I played the game, it asked me to draw a koala, a kangaroo, and the continent of Australia, all from memory. It then showed me pictures of the three of them; pretty interesting what I’d forgotten and what I remembered. And then, the next time Liesl played, it asked her to draw the same thing, and both of us got to look at each other’s drawings. Fun; we turn out to both be approximately equally bad at that sort of thing.

I’m glad I bought it; I was happy to spend 15-30 minutes a day on it for a month or so. I’ll probably by the next game in the series; it helps that they’re only 20 bucks. It wasn’t exactly a revelation, and there are ways in which it could be improved, but it’s fine for what it is.

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