When you think of training your brain, what is the first thing that comes to mind? A crossword puzzle, sudoku, word searches or a simple game of Solitaire are prime examples. However, there is one game that is synonymous with the Nintendo handheld consoles – Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training. Not only has the name become popular, it’s one of those titles where you know exactly what you’re going to get. The latest instalment, Devilish Brain Training, is no different.
Meet the devil
Just like the first day of school, your first session with brain training is an introduction, only this time your teacher is adorned with horns. The purpose of Devilish Braining, as Dr Kawashima will remind you repeatedly, is to improve brain function, working memory and focus. This is achieved by completing a series of progressively tough mini-challenges as well as some supplementary activities.
The purpose of Devilish Braining, as Dr Kawashima will remind you repeatedly, is to improve brain function
The main proponent of the game are the Devilish challenges, which will really put your thinking skills to the test. The first is a math and memory challenge called Devilish calculations. In it you must memorise the answer to an equation, see the next equation, memorise that answer, but write the answer of the previous sum. And that’s just a one-back. It’ll get faster and the number of sums to remember will increase.
Then there’s Devilish pairs, which is similar to a standard find-the-pair game, only this one has a hectic penalty for incorrect guesses. Next is Devilish Mice, which has you memorising the locations of mice. Higher levels will be faster and include more mice for you to keep track of. Next is Devilish cups, which is similar to the sliding cup party game, only this time you need to correctly guess the order of the numbers in each cups.
There are a few other challenges included and they all sound simple but are tough as nuts. While I did pretty good, my progress has stagnated, and according to the ever present Dr Kawashima, my consistency is apparently a good thing.
Aside from the Devilish Training, the supplementary training exercises include a few from older Training Games, such as x20 Calculations, Klondike (solitaire), reading rests, spelling tests and more. There are plenty of extras aside from the primary exercises, however, my main gripe is how all the content is unlocked.
Unlike most games, the content is unlocked very slowly, usually releasing one or two new additions each new day you sign in. This could mean having to play the game every day for under a month just to unlock all it has to offer. The extra kicker here is that once you play the level it is either locked until the next day, or the score isn’t tallied on your progress board.
The game does require a significant amount of concentration
This is a great pain in the neck as sometimes you’ll just have a really bad stumble and you’ll look bad on the board. Another issue is that the game does require a significant amount of concentration. This essentially makes playing the game on the go an impossible task as you’ll be too distracted to stay focused. There’s also the matter of the touchpad getting your answer wrong. On more than one occasion did it read my 4 as a 9 or my 5 as a 6. This is a huge problem with the mathematics levels as an incorrect answer receives a penalty.
So many choices
The saving grace is the sheer volume of content, some of which are actually fun to play. There are 8 Devilish training levels, 9 Training Supplements, 9 other brain training games, 2 proper mini-games, a music level and a concentration challenge. You’ll also be able to see your progress with various graphs and statistics. It’s also cool to compare your stats with someone else using StreetPass. With that, you can see which games you are best at compared to someone else.
Now, on a personal level, despite being constantly reminded that regular brain training will improve my focus, I haven’t seen or felt any change in my day-to-day activities. I will say that basic multiplication has increased significantly and completing the challenges is remarkably easier now than when I started.
Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training is a unique brand of game. Its purpose is to improve your thinking and working memory by using exercises that are entertaining. Some of the games are fun to play, but I also get the sense that the exercises I found fun won’t be for others, while the exercises I hated, others will enjoy. I wouldn’t have high hopes for great visuals and sound and also be prepared for a lot of talking from Dr Kawashima. All in all, it’s a nice game to play when you have some peace and quiet.