Review: Junior Brain Trainer (DS)
Dr. Kawashima has a lot to answer for. Most people had never heard of the guy until his Brain Training game smashed onto the scene, caught us all off guard, and proved to be an enormous success. Publishers quickly realized that investing in similar cheap and simple games would bring them huge profits and this resulted in an avalanche of brain-related titles on the market.
Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training lies to you about your “brain age” and while I can’t possibly be alone in noticing this it seems that no-one wants to talk about it – a bit like Fight Club. I don’t care how many times Nicole Kidman or Captain Jean-Luc Picard try to tell me differently. Junior Brain Trainer is aimed at a younger audience than the other “brain” games and because of this it’s brighter and more colourful in appearance.
One of the mini-games is a word puzzle which asks the player to “Find the word that can be made with these letters” and I tried “finder” which was legitimate but I was told it was wrong and the word ended up being “friend”. I accept that this isn’t a major problem but it’s an example of something I found a little frustrating and I imagine this to be more of an issue with some kids who have a correct answer only to be told they are wrong.
The second most disappointing thing about this title is that while it contains a reasonable number of mini-games you can’t access these immediately as they are only unlocked with each passing day. I am certain there must be some really bad parents out there who are incapable of controlling their young children’s videogame usage and feel that this is a wonderful idea but they are wrong. It’s bad enough that some parents use technology to babysit their kids and then complain when their own incompetence results in young children playing adult titles. This could of course have nothing to do with parental control but since that would mean this was a creative decision it really doesn’t make any sense. I happen to think it’s ridiculous to ask anyone to purchase a game and then force them to wait a month before being able to access most of the contents.
You will notice that I described the above as only the second most disappointing thing about Junior Brain Trainer. It’s bad enough that all the mini-games must be unlocked over time but you can’t even leave the game for a few days and return to lots of new activities since you’re forced to sign into your profile before it’ll register each passing day.
The mini-games in this title are actually pretty good and the inclusion of children’s stories, although they are quite short, is a very nice touch. This makes it all the more difficult to accept that you’ll not be able to access all of them until many weeks have passed. It’s ironic that the developers of this brain-training game should shoot themselves in the foot by taking such a dumb decision. If you’re a parent who isn’t put off by waiting weeks to unlock everything then this title has a lot to offer your child but everyone else should stay clear.