No, apparently it's a good thing for a twenty-eight year old to have a thirty-two year old brain. Admittedly, when the optimal brain age for everyone is twenty, it's not perfect but - given that the test occurred under the heavy scrutiny of a PR minder, a photographer who clearly wished he had some breasts to photograph and inside a duffle coat in a room approximately heated to the temperature of a sauna in the very pits of Hell - it's not an embarrassing achievement either.
Welcome to the slightly bewildering world of Prof. Kawashima's Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? - a certified cultural phenomenon over in Japan, which has already seen an unshakeable chart-topping sequel. Now, as part of Nintendo's audience-expanding new direction, the intelligence tuner is coming to Europe in the next few months and we managed to secure some brief hands-on time with it at the company's 'Keep Evolving' press event in London yesterday.
Following in the footsteps of Nintendogs and Electroplankton, Brain Training is another title firmly stuffed in the not-really-a-game category and yet - as with its predecessors - it's bizarre, different and utterly compelling. How Old Is Your Brain? is actually one of two Nintendo titles set to hit Europe focusing on Brain Training. While this one's aimed at a more mature audience, the company's also launching Brain Training Academy, a more family-focused affair where the emphasis is skewed more toward distracting fun.
Based on research by Professor Ryuta Kawashima, a professor of neuroscience at Tohoku University in Japan, the basic concept behind both games is that regular mental stimulation keeps your brain young, sharp and your memory invigorated. How Old Is Your Brain? and Brain Training Academy both offer up a variety of challenges, all designed to keep your mind at peak efficiencies.
Due to a scarcity of demo machines at the event, our hands-on time with Hold Old Is Your Brain? was unfortunately minimal, but we did get a chance to try out the section of the game which springs out a set number of tasks in order to rate your brain's current age. The idea is that you can perform the test once a day and see the effect your brain exercising in the other modes is having.
Getting stuck in, How Old Is Your Brain? asks whether you're in an environment where your free to speak or if you're going to have to do your brain training more subtly. Your answer dictates whether you'll be given tasks requiring voice input or those that merely require the stylues. We went for the stylus mode - mainly because we've never really come to terms with having to bellow into the DS in public - but we're told the other option includes tasks along the lines of having to correctly read aloud the colour written on screen, even though it appears in a different colour to bamboozle your brain.
As for the stylus option, we tried our hand at three different games. The first - a memory test - presented us with a list of about twenty four-letter words (no, not like that), split into four columns across both screens (the whole title is designed to be played holding your DS on its side, with the touchscreen to your right). Next, you're given three minutes to try and memorise as many of the words as possible - and then it's onto the clever bit. You see, How Old Is Your Brain contains some rather snazzy hand-writing recognition software.
Once your time's up, you've got another two minutes to recall all the words by writing them on the touchscreen. The hand-writing recognition can be a little exacting at times, with the DS being particularly arsey about the letter 'K' and insisting you dot your 'I's before it'll accept them, but once you've got the hang of it, it's an impressive - and intuitive - interface.