We just received a physical copy of Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training on Nintendo Switch through the mail, so we thought it’d be fun to go a full week with the game to see what results we get.
Rather than do a one and done review, we’ll be doing daily training along with Ryuta Kawashima and the Brain Age tests for a full week to see if our Brain Age changes and if so, by how much.
Throughout the seven days, we’ll also be offering gameplay impressions, including hands-on with the official Nintendo Switch stylus that comes bundled with the physical edition of the game. With all that out of the way, let’s see how old the game thinks I am, shall we?
Brain Age Prediction
I spent so many hours on the DS version of Brain Training, so I feel suitably prepared for what the game is going to throw at me. There’s new games here, of course, and the format is different, but having checked out the trailer I know there’s some old favourites here that I used to smash through.
So I am quietly confident that my brain age is going to be around 45 (I have to be realistic and make it comparative to my actual age, which is 36)
Unrecorded Brain Age Result
Booting the game up, I’m immediately prompted to turn the Switch vertically so I can see the screen in full. Considering the original game played across two screens, this is probably for the best.
Once you’ve chosen your profile in-game, you’re then told how your Brain Age is calculated – basically, they use data collected from subjects age 20 to 70 and will compare my results to theirs to make the best approximation.
Before I’m allowed to get into the test, though, the game prompts me to try out one of the new mini-games which makes use of the IR Motion Camera in Joy-Con R. I guess this wouldn’t be possible with a Switch Lite, right?
Probably for the best as the game…wasn’t the most responsive. It’s basic Rock, Paper Scissors and the aim is to make the appropriate hand shape to combat the hand on screen.
The twist, however, is sometimes you have to win and sometimes lose. The problem was the game kept losing tracking with my hand and it kept going in and out of focus. I tried different angles, moving around the room, well lit and not so well lit areas, and even swapping hands, but it just didn’t work out for me.
Anyway, my continued failings at the game finally brought about an initial Brain Age Check which came out at 80! Yeah, I’m not buying that.
Fortunately, this one wasn’t recorded and was sort of a warm up for the main event.
First Brain Age Result
I decided to go in cold with this. I also sort of lied to the game when it asked if I have my IR Camera at hand. I clearly do, but after my first experience, I wanted to try different games and get a better idea of what my brain age should be. I’ll try something different another day with the camera.
The first test is meant to assess Self Control and was the Connect Maze Test. The aim is to draw a line to connect the corresponding number and letter (So A is 1, B is 2, and it goes all the way through to M) – It’ll be familiar to those who’ve played the originals.
This was my first test with the Stylus as well, and other than my initial blunder of placing the pointer at the wrong end of the grid, the stylus worked wonderfully.
The tip flows across the screen nicely and lets out a satisfying ‘drawing-like’ noise when it does. It nestles comfortably between the index and fore fingers and is weighted about right so that’s it not going to keep falling out of your hand. Like the DS Stylus was prone to do. First impressions were good and it definitely feels like a Stylus is needed for games like this.
My time with the maze wasn’t great. I wasn’t the slowest among my friends, with a 1 minute 12.91 second time, but I knew there was plenty of room to improve. I noticed myself getting faster towards the end so hopefully next time this comes up I can improve my personal best.
Next up was a Speed Counting Test which was used to calculate my Processing Speed. It was simple enough. I needed to count from 1 to 120 out loud as fast as possible, then press the Done Button when finished.
This was a better test for me as I came out at 50.18 seconds and was third among my friends. In games like this, it’s easy to slur or not say numbers, but I feel I played fairly. I definitely feel like I could improve upon this as well, though.
Finally, they threw a Word Memory Test at me to test my Short Term Memory. That’s definitely on the way out.
Basically, you have two minutes to memorise 30 words, and then have three minutes to write them down afterwards. Seems simple enough, and I thought I’d developed some effective strategies to help me with that. I’ve actually been honing these skills more in recent years by revising for exams.
I read them aloud twice, once in reverse order. I studied them line by line, and tried to match words together that were similar. When the two minutes were up, I felt more than up for and ready for this.
Which is when both the game and stylus combined seemed to fail me. I only managed an embarrassing 5 words because I spent two of my three minutes trying to write letters in the boxes but the game kept interpreting them the wrong way!
To give you an example, I had to write out V five seperate times because the game was convinced I was doing a U. I know my writing can be bad, but it’s not that bad!
To make matters worse, there doesn’t seem to be a keyboard to tap the letters in if the game isn’t picking it up correctly, so you’re forced to keep trying until eventually it goes through. I kept getting angrier and angrier, and, well, it didn’t help my case.
As a result, I ended up having a complete blank when I needed more words. At the end, I was sat in front of my screen for thirty seconds racking my brains but nothing came. I feel like the real Brain Age test here was containing my anger, not trying to remember things.
But yes, I ended up with 5 out of a possible 30 and I’m still fuming about it now. I can’t imagine what score I would have had if I’d tried to trace letters with my fingers. Eesh!
After all that, the game calculated my Brain Age as 60. I know that isn’t accurate because of what happened in the final game. I probably would have had more words if I’d kept my emotions in check, but this is something to build on and it’ll be interesting to see how this changes over the course of a week.
For now, my brain age is +24 of my actual age, which is a scary thought. The Switch version also breaks it down further by saying my Short Term Memory is that of an 80 Year Old (Yikes!) Processing Speed of a 51 Year Old and Self Control of a 50 Year Old.
So plenty of work to do!
To prepare me for tomorrow, I decided to do a bit of training. Not everything is unlocked yet as you have to go through the exercises naturally over the course of weeks.
I did a Reading Aloud Excercise, with the game presenting me an article I had to read through twice. The first read through was 40.21 seconds with the second coming out at 39.34, for a total of 1 minute 19.55. The game estimated I read it at 6.0 syllables a second.
I also tried a speedy calculation time attack where I had to solve various math problems, including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I started well, but then my brain started to get tired and fail me, so I used a calculator on the final three. I blame my cold!
I also did some Sudoku training and tried out the first puzzle. You get the option of making five mistakes. Unfortunately, I made one silly error, though comfortably passed the puzzle otherwise.
My final time was 7 minutes 17.68, but because I made a mistake the game penalised me and added an extra…wait for it … 20 minutes!
No, seriously, I’m used to penalties in games. I pick them up relatively often, but 20 minutes? Sorry, that’s way harsh!
So yeah, don’t make a mistake on any of the Sudoku puzzles. It is well worth taking your time with them because this game is savage!
I ended my day with a quick go on Germ Buster, which is basically Doctor Mario. And I ended up my day the way I seemed to start it, with complete and utter failure. Probably the worst game of Doctor Mario I’ve ever played.
And yet, through all that, I had fun. I’m really eager and excited for tomorrow to see what kind of challenges I’ll have to deal with and if I’ve improved in any way.
Guess there’s only one way to find out. See you tomorrow!
Current Brain Age – 60