You may have heard about the rampant Nintendo DS shortages in Japan. Part of the reason it's in such high demand is this one game - Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. The everyday mind-stretcher has captivated the entire country, spanning all ages and sucking up non-gamers as well. Now it's your turn.
Every day you're supposed to fire up Brain Age and perform a series of quick tests that gauge how old your mind really feels. They start out fairly simple, like basic math problems, then morph into three-minute memorization marathons. One test has you scribbling answers onto the touch screen, using the DS like a workbook (you even hold the unit sideways, like a book), while the next makes you say, out loud, what color you're looking at. If you're in a compromising position, say on a bus or in class, you can opt for all non-verbal tests.
Sounds a lot like homework.But the constant, positive reinforcement and clicky-clacky sound effects make the logic puzzles feel like a reward. With no goal to achieve or overall score to best, the only reason to play is to better yourself, and hopefully maintain an average brain age close to your real age. Unless you're a sudoku nut - in which case there are a slew of touch-screen puzzles to topple.
Day-to-day stat tracking lets you know how you're doing, plus shows how others sharing your game card stack up against you. If no one else has it, up to 16 can sample the puzzling goodness. Just be prepared for some unexpectedly high ages until you work around the game's touch-and-go interface.