Games: 'Brain Age'

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"Brain Age," the hot new video game from Japan, arrives in the US Monday, and it's not just for the hard-core gamer. This little bundle of a dozen or so minigames and activities from Nintendo is geared for all ages. Based on the work of a Japanese neuroscientist, Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, the electronic games (currently for the hand-held Nintendo DS player only) are designed to stretch, train, and expand mental abilities such as math, logic, and memorization.

With minimal visuals, the system runs the player through all sorts of drills. The DS has two screens with one featuring a friendly floating head that talks via dialogue boxes during certain games. One called Head Count features a group of stick people entering and exiting a dwelling randomly while the game tests your ability to count who's in and who's out.

As you play, harder games on deeper levels open up, although the games are primarily designed for quick, daily play. In case these games aren't enough, designers made Sudoku for the American version. As an added social bonus, "Brain Age" games can be played by up to 16 players at once. Pretty addictive, and it just might help those SAT scores. Grade: A

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