Brain Age 2 is a worthy sequel

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Game Review - The unlikely video game phenomenon is back and better than before with Nintendo's newest entry in the Brain Age series.


In Pictures: Challenges in Brain Age 2


Epitomizing Nintendo's recent track record, no one really gave Brain Age a second look, until it was released and became a huge success.  That success is back in Brain Age 2, complete with the addictive brain training exercises, a full slate of Sudoku puzzles, and of course the "brain check" test that lets you see just how much your mental age has accelerated.

The game layout is almost identical to the original Brain Age.  A few very minor visual tweaks are the only things noticeably different in Brain Age 2's presentation.

That's really not what matters, though.  The meat of the game is in the numerous exercises packed in, all of which are new in the Brain Age sequel.

In total, there are 15 brain exercises, compared to the original Brain Age's 10.  Just like in the first game, Brain Age 2 has a great mix of exercises that are strict brain busters, ones that seem deceptively simple, and others that are just plain fun.

Just like Brain Age, the new installment slowly unlocks the exercises based on how many days you've played, so it can sustain itself for several weeks on that token alone.

It also appears that the basic scope of mental exercises is about the same as the original Brain Age.  For computation, there's an exercise where you have to fill in the missing sign (e.g. 2 _ 5 = 7).  For short-term memorization, there's an exercise that has you try to recall 25 different numbers shown at once, as well as their position on the screen.

My personal favorite is "piano player", wherein you have to play a song using the stylus on the virtual on-screen piano.  Sheet music scrolls along the left side of the screen as you play through the song.

Brain Age 2 is really just Brain Age with different exercises, but the new challenges are so captivating that it feels like an entirely different game.  The only real shame is that it's designed to be a game you play for just a few minutes every day.  I could spend all day with some of the exercises.

The biggest complaint I had with the original Brain Age was the "stroop test", which requires players to say the name of a color that shows up on screen.  The voice recognition was sometimes frustrating.  That's fixed with Brain Age 2.  In the new stroop test, you must call out "rock", "paper", or "scissors".  

The game will show one symbol and, depending on the instructions, you have to say which symbol would win or lose (e.g. the game shows the "rock" symbol and says "lose", so you must say the word "scissors").  Because of the difference between the three words, you can bank on the game always understanding which one you said.

Since the dawning of Brain Age, there have been countless rip-offs, none of which has come close to capturing the essence of Nintendo's pivotal title.  Brain Age 2 proves that superiority again, as a masterfully crafted piece of software that is part game, part mental workout.