Okay, it has reached summation time.
Every day this month I've devoted ten or so minutes to Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? Proof rests below.
This game is over four years old now, has one sequel and a fair amount of spin off titles but it's a common game to find in bundle deals when buying a Nintendo DS. The age doesn't really show, there's no loading times and a slick menu leads to ease of use.
What you're encouraged to do is three of the nine activities in training mode everyday.
The first two are very similar, 'Calculations x20' and 'Calculations x100'. Simple additions, subtractions, multiplications and, if hard mode is selected, divisions, appear on the top screen for you to answer on the touch screen. 'Voice Calculation' is the last game to be unlocked and is the same as 'Calculations' but instead of writing down the answers you say them out loud. The voice recognition is passable but had trouble recognising my sixes. 'Triangle Maths; asks you to complete puzzles like this
5 7 3
5 7 3
5 7 3
In 'Reading Aloud' the aim is to read passages from classic books. You're encouraged to read the passages out loud but the game won't penalise you if your speed reflects that you read in your head. After a month the excerpts hadn't started to loop yet.
'Low to High' flashes several numbered boxes on screen for a few seconds and asks you to remember the order, as the name says, from lowest to high when they've disappeared getting progressively harder as you get more correct.
Presenting a sentence or phrase 'Syllable Count' gets you clapping out a sentence like back in little school or at the least tapping it out on you leg.
'Head Count' plays out like a little minigame as you attempt to keep track of how many figures are inside a house. More will enter and leave even through the chimney and it gets rather hard to keep up with the flow of figures.
One of the most fun but the penultimate game to unlock is 'Time Lapse'. You're shown two analogue clocks and asked to write down the time difference between the two.
Every day, if you do one activity, you get a stamp (three a day results in a bigger stamp) and by the accumulating of stamps you get rewards of new games and features and a nice visual reminder you've done your days brain training. Stamping down feels oddly reminiscent of filling in a star chart like when I was younger.
The PAL version of the game is named after Dr. Kawashima who serves as your guide in the guise of a floating pixelated head. It's a friendly image though, his banter is pleasant and welcoming as he greets you and asks occasionally if you want to do an extra task he's thought of. He's a great mascot who gives off a very neutral vibe which is what is needed. Some brain puzzle based games I've seen have snooty or uppity guides which is a put off to some people.
The flaws in brain age are few but the two main ones are that there's not enough games and after under a month days the games stops rewarding you. The first could be remedied in Brain Training 2, I'll have to find out another month.
Maybe other demographics won't be as bothered but after about 20 days everything that can be unlocked is unlocked. Even if I didn't care about the feature getting a little reward is a great way to keep people coming back to your game day after day, it just peters out a little quick.
After a month I found this self set challenge fairly easy to stick to and would thoroughly recommend dusting out a copy of this game if you never played it or gave it much of a chance. I felt better doing it so whether or not my brain is healthier, fitter, faster, or more likely, not, that's what counts.
My final brain age, 29, and that's only nearly a decade out of sync.