Brain training games have recently come under fire, with claims flying about that they don’t really improve your brain power at all. Instead of bulking up on grey matter, all they do is beef up your skill at the particular puzzles they contain.
It doesn't take a brainiac, however, to see that these simple exercises are loads of fun. Brain Exercise with Dr Kawashima delivers its fair share of entertainment, even if it doesn't bring much new to the table.
The game features 15 brain teasers designed, however efficaciously, to chisel your brain into a streamlined thought machine, plus a bonus game of sudoku.
You only have a couple to try to start with, but play ball and you soon unlock the others. Ranging from working out what’s on the other side of a die to following paths to work out where objects moving along them will end up, it’s all familiar brain training fodder.
Like a schoolteacher, Dr Kawashima’s schedule is a strict one. The two main modes, Brain Training and Brain Age, can only be played once a day. These are the modes that earn you new mini-games, too, so you can’t go unlocking the whole game quickly unless you’re willing to do a bit of fiddling with your handset’s calendar.
This wouldn’t be too much of a problem apart from the fact that the slightest disturbance in Brain Training mode will cause it to end, making you wait another day for a chance to unlock more games. Something as simple as a low battery warning throws the game off.
These niggles aside, the slow burn structure works well. Once you’ve used up your Brain Training and Brain Age day passes, you can still play your unlocked games in the Quick Play mode, although you won’t win yourself any new games by doing so.
Rather than opting for any gimmicks, the mini-games are simple, using sparing visuals and simple controls so as not to swamp the almost clinical conditions in which the game operates. Next to brain training rivals, with their cartoon characters and colourful visuals, Brain Exercise may seem too serious for its own good.
Let it worm its way into your daily routine, though, and Brain Exercise soon becomes compelling. The tests used in the Brain Training and Brain Age modes will vary from day to day, branching out ever further as you unlock more games. For more extended play, sudoku is more fun than just playing through the games without any feedback from Dr K, but it doesn’t take long to unlock it.Brain Exercise is a game that imposes boundaries on you - in fact, you could say it barely positions itself as a game at all. Dr Kawashima has worked out lessons for you to take each day, and Dr Kawashima should be obeyed for Dr Kawashima is wise. Just remember to keep your battery charged before your daily brain training session.