REAL WORLD GOLF
(Mad Catz; Everyone; PC, Xbox, PS2)
Every weekend duffer knows the main reason they aren't Tiger Woods. He's good. They're not. But each harbors a secret dream. A dream that if only they had unlimited fairway time, they too could become a Tiger of the sport. For those sad, hopeful souls, Real World Golf beckons.
It's important to recognize the two separate parts of Real World Golf. The first is the innovative Gametrak controller, which translates a player's actual golf swing into the game. A pair of gloves (they look like props stolen from from the set of Minority Report) are attached to the base unit via a set of wires. After a few minutes of calibration, they will track your swing in real time. Slice, hook or pure wiff it shows up on the screen. Considering you'll want replicate that beautiful fade mastered on the practice range, RWG isn't necessarily suited for a cramped studio apartment. But would-be holodeck hacks should know that this virtual course is just as unforgiving as Augusta in April. Score a double bogey due to a glitch in your swing and now you can't blame the weather.
While the Gametrak is a techno marvel, it's the video game portion that still needs work. The 10 courses offered (compete with water and sand hazards) have the generic look and play of your local public course. There are long stretches without background music, crowd noise, or even a bird call and what you do hear is an irritating color commentator who seems to be moonlighting as your caddie by offering up bits of lame encouragement after you shank a shot. Still, for a rainy Sunday afternoon, Real World Golf is a solid choice to get on the back nine without leaving home. B Paul Katz
(Nintentdo, Everyone, DS)
After spending a few blissfully voyueristic hours watching Lara Croft run (and jump and swim and do that cool handstand thing) in the new Tomb Raider game, I decided to unwind by picking up my DS and…solving some math problems. Behold the latest innovative offering for Nintendo's cool stylus-based portable game system. Developed by a Japanese neuroscientist, Brain Age is a collection of cognitive excercises (including reading, mental flexibility, and simple calculations) designed to improve blood flow to the brain. This, if I understand correctly, is supposed to keep your brain healthy and fit. Players enter their answers by using the stylus or speaking into the DS' tiny microphone. I'm pretty certain my brain has become healthier, but after hearing my Tourette's-like exclamations of ''Blue!… Yellow!… Red!… Red!… Black!,'' I'm guessing my upstairs neighbors think otherwise.
Like any exercise plan, this is meant to be a daily regimen. Indeed, a program tracks your so-called ''brain age'' the younger your ''age,'' the smarter you are. I won't tell you my exact score, but it turns out my brain is eligible for Social Security. (And, yes, I felt the blood rush to my head my face turned red and I wanted to punch out all of my smarter and younger and better-looking colleagues.)
In all seriousness, Brain Age really does provide a serious mental workout. Over a period of time, I was able to increase my performance and lower my score. And I think my memory has improved too. Now that I've gotten my brain age down to a respectable number, I'm waiting for Nintendo to come out with Body Age. B+ Wook Kim