ESRB Rating: E
Compatible With: Nintendo 3DS
Price: $34.99 (Also downloadable from the Nintendo 3DS eShop)
GOOD: Plenty of engaging content that’ll sharpen up your thought process.
BAD: The science behind the game is fuzzy at best. Content is gradually unlocked. Game occasionally can’t read the numbers you write with the stylus.
THE BASICS: An Exercise for the Easily Distracted
Brain Age: Concentration Training is a collection of puzzles and games that are meant to improve your “working memory,” which, in turn, is supposed to help you stay focused on work and other important tasks.
Neuroscientist Dr Kawashima reprises his role as a floating head for Concentration Training. He walks you through each game and even offers lectures about working memory and how it can be improved with concentration-based games. When it’s time to get down to “Devilish Training,” he even dons a pair of horns and turns beet-red, so you know it’s time to get serious.
GAMEPLAY: Numbers, Letters, Devils
Devilish Training is broken up into five minute segments that require intense concentration, so doing one daily session is supposed to be sufficient for improving your working memory. Devilish Training’s difficulty increases or decreases depending on how well you can handle a particular skill level. While the first round of Devilish Calculations requires you to write down the previous answer, you’ll be asked to do “two-back” or “three-back” if you score consistently well. The other Devilish games adjust accordingly, too: You’re required to find more mice, or match up more numbers, and so on. If you fail to keep up your high score, you go down a level. High scores are necessary for unlocking some content, so the more you play, the better your brain performs, and the more you’re rewarded for your efforts.
And chances are you will noticed a marked improvement in your concentration the more you play with the Devilish games. There’s no guarantee that you won’t ache to check Twitter while you’re slogging your way through a textbook, but you probably won’t even think about your phone when the heat is on during your daily five minutes of training. Moreover, if you’re poor with numbers, Concentration Training can help you learn how to perform basic operations more quickly. Fortunately, Concentration Training has a “Supplemental Training” section that contains many of the classic exercises from the original Brain Age, including its reams of mathematical calculations.
Finally, if you need to take a break from numbers, letters, and mice, Concentration Training’s “Relaxation Mode” has a collection of fun distractions that you can cool off with, including a Dr Mario-style puzzle game and a block-jumping game that’s not as easy as it looks.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND: Pleasingly Laconic
There is one major audio change from the original Brain Age: Dr Kawashima talks through the whole experience and doles out advice, instructions, and lectures. His voice is, in a word, soothing.