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Personal improvement games and in particular Brain improvement games have become a popular programme for the Nintendo DS. The success of Dr Kawashima's Brain Training cartridge resulted in a myriad of similar titles for the console.
The Professor's Brain Trainer: Logic is one of a pair of such titles; the other cartridge being a Memory based set of challenges. The game was published in 2006 by 505 Games.
The game, through a set of exercises and challenges aims to stimulate and develop the right side of your brain which is apparently under-utilised by you and I. The game has been developed by an expert in this field Dr. Makoto Shichida, who I admit to have never hearing of before playing this game!
On starting the cartridge you are asked to create a player profile. Luckily you can have up to four separate profiles so that the cartridge can be used by several members of the family. Once the profile has been created you have the options of Training or lunging straight into Challenge mode.
The training mode allows you to practice each of the 5 mini game challenges at 1 of 4 skill levels (1 being the easiest and 4 the hardest). The 5 challenges each stimulate the brain in a different way and heavily rely on observational skills.
The first challenge is named "Finding Friends". In this challenge a series of pictures are displayed spread across a grid of 24 squares (6 by 4). Out of these pictures there are only 1 matching pair that you must find and tap with the stylus, all within a 5 second timeframe. There are 20 of these challenges that get increasingly more difficult as the game progresses. It is amazing how quickly 5 seconds can pass and whereas levels 1 and 2 of the game are easily completed the game becomes much harder when playing at the higher levels of 3 and 4.
The second challenge is named "Shape Recognition". In this challenge you are shown a pixel pattern on a 7 by 8 grid and alongside 4 similar patterns are displayed. Only one is an exact match and once again you have 5 seconds to tap on the correct matching pattern. This may sound easy but in the harder levels some of the patterns may only differ by a single pixel and are difficult to spot in such a short period of time.
The third challenge "Addition" is surprisingly an addition task! You are shown a varying number of cards that have numbers on them. You again have 5 seconds to add the face values of all the cards and then click on the correct answer from a selection of 4 multiple choice answers. Your maths really needs to be good for this and once again the harder levels are really challenging as adding 8 or so cards in such a short time is really difficult.
The penultimate challenge is called "Remember sequence". In this challenge a series of cards are slowly dealt out one by one onto a 4 by 3 grid. After the cards have been dealt you are then asked to click on the card that was dealt at a specific point in the sequence. For example you may be asked to click on the card that was dealt 5th in the sequence. This really pushes your memory into overdrive and longer sequences will be appreciated by fans of the old electronic game Simon.
The final challenge is called "Moving dots". In this challenge a screen is displayed showing a variable number of small dotty balls moving around inside a square frame. You have 5 seconds to count how many there are and tap on the correct answer from a multiple choice of four answers. This isn't as easy as it sounds and when there are 7 or more balls all weaving in and out of each other the counting becomes really difficult and irratic.
On each of the training modes there twenty individual instances of each challenge and at the end of each session you are given a brain development %. So if you got 14 out of 20 in a challenge you would have 70% brain development. So once you have mastered the individual challenges you are then ready to face the challenge mode.
In the challenge mode you are set the quest to complete each of the 5 challenges in a series of four worlds. Each world becomes progressively harder and is directly related to the training levels; so the difficulty of the challenges in World 3 are the same as the training level 3.
To clear a world and progress to the next you must successfully compete in and clear each of the five game challenges that are detailed in the training section of this review. To clear each game you need to achieve about 85% success rate in each challenge. The games are identical to the games in the training mode so if you have trained well then passing through the levels is a breeze.
Complete all four worlds and you have completed the game.
Sound, control and graphics
The graphics are clear and legible and the sound consists of computer generated music that washes over you without interfering with your levels of concentration.
The controls are mostly single stylus taps on the touch screen which the game responds to accurately and responsively.
The game has really limited lifespan as there are only 5 different challenges in the game and you can quickly become tired of playing these. The only real element of playability is the desire to complete the game at each level and once this goal has been reached there is no real reason to return to the game. You get the feeling that the game has been rushed onto the market to capitalise on the success of Nintendo's Brain Training series of cartridges.
Yet unlike Nintendo's Brain Training cartridge where your brain development is assessed and monitored on a daily basis this game lacks the same level of interactivity and doesn't inspire you to play repeatedly. I also think that the title is a little misleading as challenges such as addition and counting balls are questionably games of Logic.
So has my right side of the brain become brighter, I'm not sure, but I am sure of the weight of cash in my right pocket that has become lighter!
© M Jones (Otalgia) 2008