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Going ​back​ ​​to​ ​school​ isn’t​ something​ ​that ​​most​ ​of​ ​us ​​would​ ​relish. ​The​ awkwardness, teenage ​angst​ and​ homework​ are​ experiences ​​better​ ​left​ ​in​ the​ past.​

​But​​ in​​ all​​ ​of​ ​those there​ ​was,​ perhaps​​ ​surprisingly,​ learning​ happening.​ ​What​ ​​if ​you​​ could​​ ​take​ ​just​ ​the learning​ part​​ and​ ​​distill ​it​ ​​into ​a​ ​​video​ ​game? ​​That’s ​​what ​Dr​​. Kawashima’s Devilish Brain Training​ ​sets ​​out​ ​to​ achieve.​

Devilish Brain Training ​​is​ a​​ ​new,​ successor​​ ​version ​of​​ ​the​ ​original​ ​Nintendo​ ​DS​ ​Brain Training. ​​Released​ ​in ​​Japan ​nearly​​ five​ ​​years​ ​ago, ​​it ​​has​ ​finally ​​made ​its​ ​​way​ to​ ​​Australia and​ ​New​ ​Zealand.​ ​It’s​ ​not​ ​just​ another​​ version​​ of​​ ​what​ ​came ​before​​ however;​ ​Devilish​​ Brain Training​ ​is ​significantly​​ ​​more​ ​difficult ​than​​ the​​ ​previous ​two​​ games​ ​​in​ ​the​ ​series,​ ​but as​ ​Dr​. ​Kawashima​ ​constantly​ ​reminds​ ​you:​ ​no​ pain,​ ​no​​ ​gain. ​​To​ ​prove ​​the​ point,​​ ​the​ ​game starts​ ​you ​​off ​at​ ​​an​ “F”​​ ranking,​ ​and​ ​you​ ​must​ prove​ ​yourself​ by​ ​​completing​ ​activities ​to​ work​ ​your​ ​way​ to​ ​something​ less​​ humiliating.​

There ​are​​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​new​ brain​ ​training​ ​tools,​​ supplements​ and​ other​ activities.​ ​The ​hardest ​​are​ ​broken​ ​up ​​into​ ​five​ ​minute​ chunks.​​ ​These ​​activities ​are​​ released​​ ​over ​​the course​ ​of​ ​a​ ​few​ ​days,​ ​starting​ ​with​ basic​ ​ones​ ​to​ ​​get​ ​you​ ​hooked,​ ​then​ slowly​ ​ramping​ up​ in​ ​difficulty​ over​​ time.​

​Now​ ​I​ always​​ ​preferred​ ​English,​ ​History​ and​ ​​Geography​ ​to​ ​Maths, and​ fortunately​ Devilish​ Brain​​ ​Training ​​offers ​​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​word-based, ​​and​ ​numbers​ based​ training ​​sessions.​ ​That’s ​​not​ ​to​ say​​ ​they​ ​were​ ​easy.​ ​By​ the​ ​time​ ​​you’re​ ​a​ ​few​ ​days ​in,​ ​​all​ ​the different ​​activities​ ​strained​ ​my​ ​reasoning ​​and​ recall​ ​abilities.​ ​You​​ ​can​ ​really ​​get ​into​​ ​a​ ​flow with ​​some​ ​of​ these,​​​and​ ​when​ ​I ​was ​​sometimes​​ jolted​​ out​​ of​​ ​this​ flow​​ ​they​ became​​ much​ harder. ​Devilish​​ Brain Training​ really​​ ​is​ ​best ​​experienced​ ​in​ quiet​​ ​solitude,​ without​​ ​the distractions ​​of​ ​public ​​transport,​ ​or,​ ​well,​ ​other​ people​​ ​in​ general.​​ ​For​ ​example,​ Devilish​ Reading​ ​requires​ ​you ​​to ​read​ ​​a​ passage​ ​​of ​​text​ ​out​ ​loud,​ and​ ​​goes​ so​​ far​ as​​ ​to​ make​​ ​you confirm​ ​you’re​ ​in​ a​​ quiet​​ environment​ ​​before​ starting.​

There’s ​​also ​a​​ ​match-three​ ​game​ ​to​ ​help​ ​you​ “rest”​ between​ training​​ sessions.​​ ​It​ ​is curiously​ ​played ​​vertically,​ holding​ ​​the ​3DS​ on​ ​its​​ side​ ​(something​ ​I​​ ​can​ imagine​ 2DS owners​ ​not​ ​appreciating).​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​curious​ ​addition​ ​given ​​my​ ​3DS ​is​​ ​full​ ​of ​other​​“easier”​ games,​ ​but​ ​it’s​ ​welcome​ nonetheless.​

In ​​addition ​to​ ​​the​ ​activities,​ Dr​. ​Kawashima​​ occasionally​​ ​gives​ ​you​ ​lectures​ ​and​ ​quizzes designed​ ​to ​​give​ ​you​ ​some​ ​greater ​​detail​ ​on​ the​ science​​ ​and​ ​purpose​ ​of​ the​ ​activities​​ that​ he ​wants​ ​you​​ ​to​ do.​ Sometimes​​ ​Dr​. ​Kawashima’s ​​explanations ​and​​ ​lectures​ can​ ​​go​ ​on​ ​for ​a​ little​ ​too​ ​long,​ ​but​ ​you​ ​can​ ​optionally​ ​skip​ ​most ​of​​ ​them ​​or​ ​watch​ them​ ​​on ​​fast​ ​forward.

Brain Training encourages​ ​consecutive​ ​days​ of​​ ​‘play’​ ​through​ ​certificates,​ ​awards​ ​and ​by​ filling​ out​​ ​a​ ​daily​ ​attendance​ ​sheet.​ It​​ felt​​ ​rewarding​ ​to​ ​receive​ ​these​ ​platitudes, ​​but without ​a​​ ​way​ ​to​ share​​ ​them ​​with​ the​​ wide​​ ​world​ outside​ ​the​​ ​game​ ​they ​​were ​little​ more​ than​ ​entries​ buried​​ ​under​ ​submenus.

The ​game​​ ​mainly​ uses​ ​the​ ​​stylus​ to​​ ​enter​ text,​ ​​and ​​select ​​options​ ​on​ the​​ ​screen.​ Just​​ ​as​ in​ Hey! Pikmin,​ ​I​ ​would​ have​ ​liked​ ​​some​ ​sort​ of​​ fallback​​ ​that​ ​doesn’t​ require​​ ​the​ stylus,​ ​but​​ ​at least​ its​​ ​not​ ​as​ ​unfriendly ​​to ​​left-handers​ ​as​ that​​ ​game​ ​is.

I ​cannot​ ​speak​ ​to​ ​​the ​medical​ ​efficacy​​ of​ ​Brain​​ ​Training, ​but​ ​it​​ certainly​​ ​made​ ​me​ feel​ ​like​​ ​I was ​​firing​ ​up ​old​​ ​skills ​that​​ ​had​ ​become​ ​rusty​ ​since​ high​​ school.​ ​Putting​​ ​aside ​​the ​science​ of​ brain​ ​training,​​ I​ ​​enjoyed​ my​​ time​​ with​​ ​Dr.​ ​Kawashima.​ The​​ ​more​ ​I ​played​ the​​ better​​ ​I ​​got at​ ​those ​activities,​​ ​and​ ​that’s​ not​ ​nothing.​ ​Not​ ​your​​ traditional​ ​game,​ ​Devilish​​ Brain Training​ ​will​ ​challenge​ ​you​ more​​ than​​ ​almost​ any​ ​​other​ ​game​ ​on ​​the​ system,​ ​​and ​​I ​​know that​ some​ ​​of​ ​you ​​will​ ​relish ​in​​ ​that ​challenge.​


Dr.​ ​Kawashima’s​ ​Devilish​ ​Brain​ Training​ (3DS) Review
Game Details

Released: July 2017
Rating: G
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Puzzle / Quizz
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo

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Edwin Crump

Edwin Crump

Contributor - AUS at STG
Edwin has been playing games since collecting all 151 original Pokémon in Pokémon Blue. A fan of RPGs and third person adventures, he has spent far too much time in the worlds of Final Fantasy.
Edwin Crump

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