Just when your brain thought it was free from the clutches of neuroscientist Dr K comes his latest way to flex your grey matter in Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch.
Quite a sensation when it first arrived on Nintendo’s DS back in 2006, anybody familiar with that title will find lots to jog the old memory cells here – even the disembodied polygonal Dr K head that you can mess with upon startup.
The idea is for the player to perform a randomly plucked series of brain exercises each day, with the aim of reducing their “brain age”. This involves completing various puzzles that involve words, shapes and numbers, usually with the handily included stylus (which comes complete with holder lugs in the game case – a neat touch).
With the addition of the Switch’s Joy-Cons – in particular their IR Sensor – a handful of new gesture-related tasks are opened up, including a take on Rock Paper Scissors. Ah, but the best news for many will be the return of Sudoku, plus Germ Buster, a simplified take on the classic Dr Mario puzzle game.
Functionally, this iteration of Dr K asks you to, for the most part, hold your Switch vertically. This works well with the Lite, but the extra heft of the original Switch can be a turn-off. However, many of the exercises rely upon using Joy-Cons, negating a significant amount of them being playable at all on the Lite unless you have a pair of the controllers hanging around.
We had a few issues back in the day with number recognition, and sadly they remain. In our case, Dr K has a big problem recognising our ‘4’, and we had to reprogram our way of writing them to suit the game, rather than it learning our style in any way. This, of course, can cause issues with ratings, for if you’re faffing about trying to get the good doc to recognise a number when you knew an answer instantly, the whole notion of time-based judgment is inherently flawed.
For yes, despite vague leanings towards claiming that it’s fact-based, Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch offers results that basically have zero sciencematific credibility. It will get you thinking, but ultimately it really is just a game – a good thing to remember the next time Doc Polygon cockily informs you that you possess the brain age of an 80-year-old.
Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch is available now on Switch.