I wasn't the biggest DS fan when Brain Training hit the big time in June 2006. Its collection of gimmicky games had done nothing for me, but Brain Training showed that simple little games could be addictive and fun. Fast forward a year and my DS Lite is being used daily, with More Brain Training from Dr. Kawashima: How Old Is Your Brain? being a key part of my daily routine.
As a sequel to the immensely popular Brain Training, More Brain Training had a lot to live up to. As successful as Nintendo's first effort was, a simple rehash wouldn't have cut it, so a collection of entirely original games is a huge relief. Once again you get a number of brain taxing challenges (eleven in total once they've been unlocked), plus six mini-games. They range from winning or losing at 'Rock, Paper, Scissors', drawing the correct missing symbol in a simple equation and playing a piece of music on a keyboard, to memorizing numbers in a 5x5 grid and choosing the correct amount of change.
As was the case in last year's game, the idea behind More Brain Training is that you train your brain via a short session each day. In these sessions you take part in each of the training exercises and then carryout the Brain Age test. This is the big daddy of tests, and is what gives you the all important number that is your Brain Age. To begin with my Brain Age was a good 20 years older than my actual age (44, if you must ask) but after a week of training it had risen to a not too shabby 28.
Now, either my brain really is improving or the game is making me believe it is, but either way it's still a fun game to play. Time can also be easily wasted by playing the included fuller mini-games, such as the hugely addictive Sudoku puzzles and Dr. Mario clone. While More Brain Training isn't something you'll play for hours every day, it's a game that you'll want to keep close by your DS for a good few months at least.
Aside from the single-player brain training fun, More Brain Training also features a strong multiplayer element. With one game card you're able to play with a maximum of 16 players over four fun games. These include 'Correct Change', 'Word Scramble', 'Memorise 5x5' and a simple picture drawing game. Of them all, the drawing game is by far the most fun, with each player determining whose picture is the best. It's best played in large groups, but it's great fun with anything more than three players.
Problems are few, but once again the handwriting recognition causes problems. I found numbers were recognised without too many problems, but letters constantly plague my times on the word-based challenges. The game forces you to write a single letter at a time before recognising it and letting you move on, but it still had trouble with my 'G's, 'F's and 'e's. You can learn how to write in order to lessen the problem, but writing in a new style when under pressure is a pretty hard thing to do.
More Brain Training is almost exactly what I wanted from a follow-up to Brain Training and I'm pretty certain millions of other people will feel the same. The challenges included are great, the more full-featured games are excellent and the multiplayer games are a must play if you have friends with handhelds. After a year full of copycats, the original has returned to show them all how it should be done.