The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
It’s been years since we’ve seen the release of a proper Brain Age game, as the brand has been focused on downloadable Express offerings since Brain Age 2 released in 2007. Concentration Training is a full-fledged new entry in the series, and it offers some of the toughest challenges to date.
Many of the activities fall in line with what you’d expect from the previous entries. They have you with performing calculations quickly, memorizing words, and playing minigames that sometimes feel like logic puzzles. While these tasks are familiar, the new Devilish Training exercises are the main focus of this installment.
Several different exercises fall under the Devilish Training banner, and they typically follow the same general format. You’re given five minutes to practice whatever the objective is, and you’re given a letter grade based on how we`ll you perform. The first challenges are Devilish Calculations, and they set the tone for what to expect. A basic math equation is shown on the screen, but it’s quickly replaced by another. Instead of solving the problem that’s currently on the screen, you’re tasked with answering the previous one while memorizing the current one.
After working your way through a ladder of these questions, you go up a level if you score high enough. The first set of problems isn’t too difficult, but things get really hairy as expectations rise. Trying to memorize three sets of math equations while answering one that I saw four problems back is incredibly difficult, and tests memorization far more than math skills.
Other Devilish Training tasks are similar, but they replace calculations with words, shapes, etc. If Nintendo’s objective was to strain the brains of 3DS owners, they’ve succeeded. However, these exercises are more annoying than the fun challenges of previous games.
If you’re not into the Devilish Training, more modes unlock as you rack up days of attendance. Basic calculations are available, as well as minigames that incorporate math equations. If you want to completely move away from attempts at “brain training,” it even has a couple of puzzle and card-based minigames.
The Brain Age series has a certain charm about it, but this installment is easily my least favorite. If Devilish Training were some unlockable throwaway mode, I’d be OK with it. As the main new concept in a series, however, it makes the experience more annoying than it is entertaining or educational.
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.