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.