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 PLATFORM: DS
THE ORIGINAL IN A FIELD OF IMITATORS

he first Brain Age helped the Nintendo DS become what it is today, both in the U.S. and overseas. Its success has not been overlooked by other companies hoping to cash in, and a flood of “me too” brain games have bombarded the market with limited results. Brain Age 2 brings back the mix of simplicity, sophistication, and fun to the game space that others are sorely lacking.

Math is still the primary tool of Dr. Ryuta. Players will continuously subtract the same number from a larger number until it reaches zero, or they’ll figure out correct change by tapping bills and coins. These math problems and more are just as tricky as before, but some will remind you a little too much of previous games. For example, the race game (where you keep track of a sprinter’s place as competitors fly past) is almost exactly the same as the house challenge from Brain Age 1.

Other challenges, like memorizing a grid of 25 numbers or reading an upside down, backwards clock, will really test your mettle. But I preferred more fun activities like playing piano alongside some sheet music or figuring out word scrambles (kind of an animated Jumble from the back of a newspaper).

Dr. Mario fans will be halfway pleased with the addition of Virus Breaker this time around. The good news is that you can play as long as you want and use the touch screen to drag and rotate pills. The bad news is that the playing grid has been reduced in order to make everything bigger onscreen, you have to earn a daily stamp before you can play it (at least in the first several weeks), and there is no versus play at all. However, the four other multiplayer games can all be shared from a single cart and are entertaining enough.

In the end, Brain Age 2 uses the same formula from the first game with some different variables thrown in. Your opinion of the original Brain Age will have to sort out whether that’s a good or bad thing.

  

MATT HELGESON   8.25
The original Brain Age proved to be a powerfully addicting handheld game, its replayability buoyed considerably by the beefy Sudoku puzzle mode. In Brain Age 2, Sudoku is back, as is a stripped down version of Dr. Mario called Virus Buster. The rest of the formula remains essentially the same, but with an all-new test of mental acuity. While it’s definitely got the same charm, it did seem that – in finding ways to change up a fairly simple template – the developers have been forced to create some contests that seem unduly counter-intuitive. However, this increased challenge will be welcome to hardcore fans that have long since brought their brain age down to 20. Despite my minor concerns, however, this is yet another excellent DS title for a system that is already home to more than a few.
8.25
CONCEPT:
A new batch of minigames and sudoku puzzles with a simplified Dr. Mario game thrown in
GRAPHICS:
Almost all of the visual assets are reused from the first game
SOUND:
The train still makes a choo-choo noise when you tap on it
PLAYABILITY:
Handwriting recognition can still be tricky at times, but voice recognition is flawless
ENTERTAINMENT:
Brain Age’s freshness appeal isn’t as strong this time around, but fans will have plenty here to keep them busy
REPLAY:
Moderate
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