Even though we are nearly a month into the New Year, there may still be some, myself included, who are still zombified from the festive period. Luckily, Nintendo’s first game of the new decade is here and it aims to sharpen your brain in minutes a day with Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch.

Will a game with such a lengthy title truly provide you with a boosted brain, or is it pure drivel that will turn your brain to mush? Find out in our review, after the break!

Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch
Developed by Nintendo
Published by Nintendo
Released: 3rd January 2020
Physical review copy provided by Nintendo

Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training originally released for the Nintendo DS nearly 15 years ago. The game was highly influenced by the titular neuroscientist, Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, and included various short exercises and activities to not only increase your brain function, but also gauge your ‘Brain Age’ too… essentially how well you performed compared to an original study of 149 participants.

Though the DS, and now 3DS, are now relics of the past as far as new developments go, it’s very nice to see the Doc return onto the Nintendo Switch in his usual polygonal form, coaching you along your brain training experience. Brain Training for Nintendo Switch is more or less the same in how the game functions, even going as far as to have you rotating the console on its side. Of course, the Switch’s prefrontal cortex exerciser introduces new games and make use of its new technologies.

Daily Training is where the brunt of the content lies. Here, you’ll be able to take your daily Brain Age Test, take on a bunch of training minigames, and even take part in Brain Training World Championships… eventually. If you’ve ever played any of the earlier games, you probably know how this works by now, taking the Brain Age Test will select three specialised games at random for you to play. The first tests your self control, the second tests your processing speed, and the final tests your short-term memory.

Once you’ve completed all three, you will then be presented with your day’s Brain Age, 20 is the lowest you can achieve and 80 is the highest. What’s pretty cool is that you’ll get a breakdown of how well you performed in each category, something I believe was not in the original games… for some reason I always seem to be lacking in the processing speed department, but I like to blame that on my dyspraxia.

The training mode may seem empty at first with only a few games on offer, but if you play at least once a day, you’ll earn yourself a stamp, and the more stamps you collect, the more games you’ll unlock, and there’s thirteen of them (including Sudoku and Germ Buster). There’s a decent selection of exercises from the first two games, such as Calculation 25x, and Head Count, but there are also some new ones on offer too! I especially like Dual Task, similar to Highest Number, you have to tap the highest value on the screen, but this time you also have to keep an eye on the running person at the top, making sure they don’t trip over any hurdles. There’s also some exercises that utilise the IR Camera in a cool way. Finger Drills, for example, has you making a range of hand/finger gestures as quickly as possible using the IR camera. Personally, though enjoyable, some of the IR games do cause me a bit of hand-ache simply due to how poor my hand-eye coordination can be sometimes.

Once you’ve completed an exercise, you’ll get the chance to see your score and your rank, which is depicted by a mode of transport, walking being the slowest and a rocket being the fastest. If you have a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, you’ll also be able to check out how well you performed compared to your friends with the Top Five leaderboard. It’s pretty gratifying knowing that you’re a pro at Finger Drills… don’t know how though! Among the other exercises, there are also around 100 Sudoku puzzles to complete as well as a supposedly relaxing game called Germ Buster, which is essentially a Dr. Mario clone. Though Brain Training for Nintendo Switch also has a mode for World Championships, it is not available yet so nothing is actually known about how it works. Once it becomes available, we’ll update this review.

Quick Play is essentially a demo mode with a couple extra exercises that allow for some head to head competition. For solo quick play, you can take on Finger Drills, Finger Calculations, and even get a quick Brain Age Test from Rock, Paper, Scissors without any scores being saved. If competition is more your thing, pop out a pair of JoyCons and go head to head in Birdwatching, Flag Raising, and Box Counting. Though relatively short, these head to head games are actually incredibly fun and are in a similar vain to 1, 2, Switch (which is honestly an under-rated game in my opinion). It’s just a shame that none of these games are included in Daily Training… and that Flag Raising can be a bit funny with the motion controls.

If you opt for the physical version of Brain Training for Nintendo Switch, it comes bundled with an elegant stylus which definitely makes the game more comfortable to play compared to using a finger, though you may find yourself losing it fairly quickly if you aren’t careful.

The one annoyance I have about the game however is how the handwriting recognition can be a bit hit or miss with certain characters, more specifically the number 5. Those who have a particular way of writing may find this even more annoying, for example, my mother’s 6s are a but different from your typical 6 so sometimes the game won’t recognise it properly, meaning she’ll get a longer time in games like Calculations 25x. If the game offered a way to manually register a person’s handwriting style by having them write the alphabet and numbers, this issue would likely non-existent. It is also worth warning that not all exercises will work with the Nintendo Switch Lite out of the box. A few of them, primarily the ones that require the IR camera or the head-to-head game, need a pair of JoyCons.

Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training has always been a delight, and its Nintendo Switch version is no different. Brain Training for Nintendo Switch contains some of the best aspects of the previous games, and expands on them further by introducing new games that take advantage of the Nintendo Switch hardware. Other than a few minor issues with the handwriting recognition, this truly demonstrates the best of the Brain Training franchise.

Final Score – 4 out of 5

Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch is out now for the Nintendo Switch family systems.

Leon Fletcher

I am a huge Nintendo fan, hence why NintyBuzz exists. I especially love all things Zelda and Metroid. NintyBuzz was started by me back in the Summer of 2014, it started out mainly as a hobby, though the site has gradually grown, and I hope it grows for many years to come!