Published on August 29th, 2017 | by Nathan Misa
Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? Nintendo 3DS review
Summary: Dr Kawashima's Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? is full of puzzle-solving exercises and creative mini-games perfect for convenient pick-up-and-play. For casual gamers and even non-gamers who enjoy genuinely challenging brain-teasers.
Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? has been a brutal reminder that I need to reel in my information addiction and work on my memory retention, because being told you have the brain age of someone in their sixties does kind of hit home.
Over four years late to release in Australia and Europe, Devilish Brain Training is better late than never. Its concept is simple yet effective: Gamers and society in general are prone to information overload and tend to lose focus a whole lot more these days because of fast access to the Internet and other modern-day technological distractions such as smartphones and tablets. With Dr Kawashima’s various exercises (he’s a chatty disembodied floating head, but he’ll lecture and work you hard) the game hopes to provide players with improved concentration and memory.
The core challenges of Devilish Brain Training are listed under the titular “Devilish Training”. These are increasingly difficult exercises and puzzles designed to help players hone their working memory and focus on the main task or tasks at hand. One of my favourites to conquer was “Devilish Calculations”, which presents players with a series of mathematical equations to solve – only you have to answer them in a deferred manner. You might have to write the answer to the equation shown on-screen two questions ago and remember the answer to every subsequent equation, and if you do well enough the game will increase to three or four equations ago, and so on. The difficulty is dynamic and lowers or increases depending on your ranking and results for each subsequent exercise, making it suitable for players of all ages. These Devilish brain games usually run around five minutes long uninterrupted (if you close the 3DS screen, Dr Kawashima will know) and the aim is to improve upon your overall and previous scores.
There are many other types of games in Devilish Brain Training split into various other modes such as Brain Training (puzzle exercises to keep the brain active) Time Out (fun mini-games meant to give your brain a rest) and Training Supplements (additional activities to improve the speed of your memory). I found myself far more engaged than initially planned with the variety, jumping between 2-Back, Blockhead (take turns to occupy more space than opponent), Word Buster (writing out the displayed word correctly as fast as you can) and good old relaxing games of Solitaire. From my time with it, I can see plenty of different types of gamers (casual, non-gamers and hardcore) enjoy different types of the Devilish Brain Training package thanks to the variety.
I’ve always found Nintendo’s Dr Kawashima to represent the best of the company’s casual-oriented first party software which still exudes the same charm and quality as their main-line exclusives – it just caters to a different demographic. That demographic is kids, or adults who love to play brain teasers and solve mathematical equations in their spare time. Or competitive people like me, who like to be have bragging rights as being faster or smarter than their family and friends.
The rankings and logs that come with the game are one of the main draws of Devilish Brain Training. Dr Kawashima encourages all players who make a profile (you can make up to four profiles and choose your own custom made Mii to represent you in-game) to play daily or as much as possible so he can accurately track your progress via detailed rankings and graphs of your performance in the various exercises offered from the game. Dr Kawashima encourages regular play to improve your skills, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day; the game even says that’s all it needs to show you satisfactory tracked grade and results. If you play often to mark your attendance in the in-game calendar system or reach certain milestones, you also progressively unlock new awards and exercises, which add more fun activities and opportunities for improvement.
There is a light social element to Devilish Brain Training in the form of StreetPass, the Nintendo 3DS’s in-built multiplayer system. If you pass other players of the game, you can leave messages with ‘Training Partners’ via StreetPass and share your opinion on the various exercises, though this definitely is lacking compared to other 3DS titles and their much more engaging StreetPass implementations.
The Final Verdict
Dr Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training: Can you stay focused? Is one of those games perfect for pick-up-and-play or casual competitions among family members and friends for bragging rights on which one of you is the smarter cookie. It’s not for everyone, and you’ll only get out of it what you put in. Whether the exercises actually improve your brain substantially I’ll leave for the more informed, but I do think positive progress is possible – and sometimes it’s just fun to play something that’s genuinely challenging and not entirely mindless. A definite recommendation for kids, parents and gamers seeking casual brain teasers and G-rated fun on the Nintendo 3DS.
Primary Format – Games – Nintendo 3DS
Game Genre – Puzzle-solving
Rating – G
Game Developer – Nintendo SPD
Game Publisher – Nintendo