Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old is Your Brain? proved to be a surprising turning point for the Nintendo DS, allowing the platform to welcome a more mainstream audience and currently sits amidst the best-selling titles for the handheld, having achieved worldwide sales in excess of 18 million units.
Seemingly wanting to begin to replicate such success on Nintendo 3DS, Ubisoft have worked alongside Puzzler to serve up Puzzler Mind Gym 3D, granting a daily program of exercises and puzzles to stimulate your brain cells and the first game within such genre to hit Nintendo’s latest handheld.
Dr. Kawashima’s counterpart here is a Professor Ian Robertson – a cognitive neuroscientist, trained clinical psychologist and world expert on brain rehabilitation – who acts as your professional guide to ensuring that you can keep your brain in check, whilst also enjoying yourself at the same time.
Those familiar with the Brain Training games will recognise the relative structure here; a series of ninety ‘Daily Sessions’ being designed for the player to play a little each day to stimulate and keep those valuable brain cells active.
Each session encompasses of challenges that are preceded by four warm-up games, each based upon the exercises and puzzles individual category divisions – Visual, Memorisation, Numerical, and Word Games. Successful completion of these, which similarly award the player a performance grade, then allows you to move on to the core challenges which are more significantly used to govern your progress.
Instructions before each exercise, be it a warm-up or challenge, ensure the player isn’t confused as to what is asked of them, and although, as with most games in which so many puzzles are on offer, the quality can vary, the variety in style and execution here ensures that everyone will be able to find a number of favourites.
A Progress Tracker allows you to gauge which areas you should focus upon, with a series of charts presenting the average grades that you’ve achieved daily across each category. Below this, an additional chart then presents your overall grade that you’ve received per day so that you can see how well you are progressing at a glance.
Along your progression, the Professor pops up to share strategies and techniques that will help you to spur your mental training both with the game and in your day-to-day activities, and, if you score a reasonable performance grade, he’ll also reveal a number of educational ‘Brain Facts’ that will allow you to understand more as to how the mind works!
Such inclusions are welcome to expand the game, yet the character model used to portray Professor Robertson is entirely lifeless aside from a permanent Cheshire Cat grin etched across his face and a few aimless arm gestures. Even a little emotion could make his on-screen appearances all the less creepy, and the experience far less jarring!
It is also worth noting that the stereoscopic 3D is used well in places to enable exercises to become more visually inspired, although many will probably find that turning the 3D Slider down will aid their concentration.
Something to distract from the pure individual session set-up is my only real complaint, and the Professor’s immovable grin will now continue to haunt my nightmares…
For what it offers, it is hard to fault Puzzler Mind Gym 3D. Those wishing to blast their way through each of the exercises and puzzles on offer may do so without restriction, with those wishing to pace themselves playing a little each day across the 90-day single sessions will enjoy themselves just as much.
Beyond that though, there is little reason to return to the game unless you are willing to continue to repeatedly play exercises that you’ve completed before to improve your performance grades, but there is enough here to spark those tired brain cells.