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Which company will have a better E3?


Game Profile
GENRE: Puzzle
PLAYERS:   1-16
August 20, 2007

Wii Party

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More in this Series
 Written by John Scalzo  on October 16, 2007

Review: Are you smarter than Professor Kawashima?

A little over a year ago, Nintendo brought Brain Age to America in hopes of replicating the huge sales the series has generated in Japan. While Brain Age didn't win over America in quite the same way, a respectable two million copies have been sold. So with proof that Americans love to train their brains, Nintendo has gone ahead and given us more brain games with Brain Age 2 and what they've given us is more of the same.

Right away, it's apparent that the "look" of Brain Age 2 is little more than a copy of the first Brain Age. The title screen looks the same, Professor Kawashima hasn't aged and the game supplies the exact options as before: Quick Play, Daily Training, Sudoku and Download. Daily Training is once again broken up into several minigames centered on math and word puzzles (with a few "real world-style" puzzles thrown in). The Brain Age Check once again calculates your brain's age based on three randomly selected mini-games from a set of six. The Sudoku section includes a new set of puzzles with the same stylus-based controls.

All of the Daily Training games and the Brain Age Check games are brand new in Brain Age 2. For the sequel, Nintendo has decided to go with more word problems as opposed to the mostly math problems found in the original. It also appears that scoring a perfect Brain Age (20 years old) has become much harder. This may be due to harder Brain Age Check games or a new formula for calculating a Brain Age, it's impossible to tell. At the very least, the Brain Age Check games are pretty fun and probably the best part of Brain Age 2.

Maybe it's just me, but the new training games do not seem as addictive as the original Brain Age. Games like Word Blend (trying to suss out three words spoken simultaneously), Word Scramble (essentially a jumble clone) and Calendar Count (adding and subtracting days of the week and dates) are pretty good and Clock Spin (telling the time of a rotated clock display) is devilishly hard. But on the other hand, Sign Finder (picking the correct operator in a math problem), Piano Player (tapping a tune along with sheet music), Memory Sprint (tracking a runner's position among a dozen identical runners) are very weak.

The Daily Training section is rounded out by a special bonus game called Virus Buster (which is a new version of Dr. Mario controlled with the stylus). It's fun for a few minutes, but it's likely you'll play it once and never touch it again.

The graphics and sounds of Brain Age 2 continue the stripped down tradition of the first Brain Age. If they bothered you the first time, they'll bother you again. And if you didn't mind the simplicity of the graphics, you won't mind them with Brain Age 2. It's really that simple.

Bottom Line
Since the release of Big Brain Academy and its colorful presentation with puzzles that are more fun (and more replayable), Brain Age has been on the backburner. Sadly, Brain Age 2 doesn't do much of anything to differentiate itself from its predecessor to reverse this trend. Couple that with a weaker selection of training games and Brain Age 2 is a bit of a bust. Dedicated puzzle fiends may find a few of the games satisfying and the Sudoku is always fun, but Brain Age 2 is definitely a step down from the original and infinitely superior Big Brain Academy.

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