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Published August 20, 2007

Brain Age 2 adds more than a dozen new “training programs” to Nintendo’s patented regimen, features much improved speech recognition, and is loaded with Sudoku puzzles once again. This should essentially be a warmly-received, by-the-books sequel, especially for fans of the first game. Instead, folks most familiar with the original will tire of this game the fastest. The sense of déjà vu found on this DS cart is impossible to ignore. The menus look identical, and most of Kawashima’s quips seem recycled. Hell, even the box art is practically the same (it’s blue instead of yellow). Perhaps this is for continuity’s sake, but it just feels lazy.

Even so, doing math problems and solving word jumbles remains mysteriously fun. Or something closely approximating fun. I’m not sure if any of this is truly beneficial for my brain (at the very least, it doesn’t hurt), but Nintendo’s formula retains some of its novelty. Anyone who remembers futilely shouting, “BLUE!!” into the microphone will be pleased to learn that the microphone is much better at picking up “rock,” “paper,” and “scissors” in this installment. Best of all, some mini-games now have real world applications, such as the change counter or piano player games. Cashiers and budding musicians will be overjoyed.

Brain Age 2 is still a quality DS title at a reasonable price, and anyone who has ignored the “non-gaming” bandwagon until now should at least give it a try. However, after a week or so of the required 15-minute training sessions, don’t be surprised to find yourself spending more time with the Sudoku puzzles than with the good doctor’s disembodied head.


Overall: 3 Stars

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