Brain Age: Concentration Training
Having played a variety of user friendly and accessible mobile games, we feel Nintendo's Brain Age: Concentration Training is far too restrictive. Clearly intended for the casual audience that made this series a global success, the fact that its developers force players to sit through five scattered minutes of the new Devilish Training mode makes the publisher seem nervous, as if to imply consumers wouldn't sample it on their own. Even more bizarre, players will need to unlock the variety of mini-games over a period of several days. Perhaps this worked in 2006 before the smartphone and tablet boom, but in 2013, it makes Brain Age seem old and wrinkled next to the competition.
To be fair, Concentration Training presents a similarly entertaining experience as its predecessors once players have full access to all those calculation and shape games, all of which were designed to give one's brain a much-needed workout. Whether or not these mental gymnastics improve concentration and memory is up for debate, but there's something addictive about returning each day to boost your score.
That said, old favorites make a welcome return, including series' talking head Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, who sprouts a red face and horns for the aforementioned Devilish Training, which tasks players with remembering answers to math problems, even two at a time. Nintendo also mixed things up with a handful of games that sit outside of the norm, namely Block Head, a sort of match-three puzzler.
Similar to Brain Age games past, however, the suspect touchscreen recognition will frustrate and at times annoy players. This is especially true during Devilish Calculations, where one technical misfire is all it takes to ruin a hot streak.
For the most part, though, the game excels in taking mundane tasks and making these activities fun. At the same time, having to unlock everything (along with the required Devilish Calculations demo) is an awkward way to introduce players to the experience. Nintendo would be wise to remember this before releasing a sequel.
Review code provided by Nintendo.
What's Hot:Traditional Brain Age experience, new mini-games break up all those math puzzles, Dr. Kawashima looks neat in 3D.
What's Not:Forcing players to complete a five-minute demo, locking away much of the content, touchscreen issues.