From the title, you'd be inclined to believe that Brain Assist is another piece of quizzy, mind-buffing Nintendo DS software that will train your brain in minutes a day. But it isn't: you'll be bored of this tiny collection of brain focused minigames long before your melon has time to reap the supposed benefits.
The ten minigames included on the cartridge may tax your brain, but they're not very interesting. In one, you're given a jumbled set of numbers or letters, and you have to tap them in sequence with the stylus before time runs out. In another, pieces of an image appear on the top screen, and you have to tap the image on the touch screen that matches what you'd get if you put the pieces together.
Good brain training collections mix things up. They make you reason in different ways (not just visually) and they let you circle responses and jot down answers. Here, all you're ever doing is tapping responses to the sort of visual comparisons that Sesame Street's viewers are faced with on a daily basis.
You can try tasks individually or tackle them in the evaluation mode, where you receive a letter grade for completing a cluster of minigames. Either way, the cartridge keeps track of your results so that you can follow your improvement over time. There's also a so-called compatibility mode, in which you pass the system back and forth with someone else and play minigames until the CPU tells you how similar your brains are.
A true multiplayer mode lets you beam minigames to your friends' DS systems and compete to see who can get the best scores. Incredibly, multiplayer matches feel more tedious than the solo challenges do, because you have to wait upwards of 30 seconds for the game to transmit data every time a new minigame starts.
At the time of this writing, it's been just under two years since Nintendo's Brain Age defined this category. If Brain Assist had come out before then, it might have been revolutionary. But today, with so many able competitors on the market, we just can't recommend sparse, shallow collections with slow load times and GBA-level visuals. Whether you're looking to train your brain or just play some minigames, there are simply better options out there than Brain Assist.
Mar 4, 2008