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Review | Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises

Brains and Brawns…

Format: Xbox 360 | Genre: Puzzle| Publisher: Namco Bandai | Developer: Namco Bandia | Release date: 11/02/2011 | Price: £39.99

Though he clearly doesn’t need a mental workout, Greg Giddens is willing to see how much older his brain is to the rest of him in DR KAWASHIMA’S BRAIN AND BODY EXERCISES.

AFTER THE runaway success for Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training on the DS, a home console version was sure to follow. And behold, here it is on the Xbox 360, complete with Kinect controls. And with the Kinect controls comes the introduction of movement exercises to aid in your brain training, hence the title Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises.

The theory is, moving your body in purposeful ways in order, and in addition, to solving logic, mathematics, reflex and memory puzzlesstimulates multiple parts of the brain and gives you a decent mental workout. It’s a pretty sound theory. What this translates to with the Kinect is mini games where you, for example, solve a maths equation by filling in the missing number by kicking a choice of two footballs – each with numbers on them – towards a goal. The correct answers scores and the incorrect answer is saved by the keeper. Another example is using your arms to represent a digital time in the form of minutes and hours on an analogue clock.

Easy to learn hard to master

Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises eases you into the experience with simple puzzles that require only light movement. This is absolutely a mental workout over physical; however, the addition of movement has its benefits to the mind exercising and is well implemented to keep you engaged. It’s a pleasant and compelling experience. You’re encouraged to keep playing over time thanks to the brain age check that initially designates the mental agility of your brain and challenges you to improve it. It gave me an initial age of 50 – a mere 24 years older than my actual age – and before long I managed a far more respectable 30. Daily exercise regimes are planned out for you to help lower the age and are fun, easy to learn yet stimulating enough to grab your interest and challenge you.

It’s not all about improving your mental agility through exercises though. The exercises themselves are represented as mini games and have a charm all of their own. Up to four players can get involved, either actively as part of the mental agility improvement or simple for fun. Whilst Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises is predominantly a tool, it also proves a decent party game. It’s a party game for the family, though. Pull this out with a group of mates and you’ll have an empty house before the pizza arrives.

Mental block

However, whilst playing for fun or for the sake of exercise, the occasional issue gets in the way. Movement detection and accuracy can prove aproblem, resulting in a hit to your score. This is particularly common on the reflex games but occurs all over, wasting time or even resulting in wrong answers being submitted. An exercise where you must compare two equations and shape your arms in the position of the ‘greater than’ or ‘lower than’ signs is often misread by the Kinect senor. These issues, however, can mostly be compensated for and can be brought on by a lack of playing space or lighting issues rather than hardware and software faults. But it’s still a nuisance at times.

Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises is a nice step forwards for the series but it does come at the cost of portability. The DS Brain Training was far easier to pick up and play than going through the palaver of setting up the Kinect and clearing room enough to use it. But it’s still a good game with plenty of brain testing mini games to keep you amused and give the old noggin a workout.


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