Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Junior Brain Trainer: Maths Edition

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            Despite the arrival of the Nintendo 3DS many publishers are still keen to support the original Nintendo DS family of consoles. With in excess of one hundred million units sold, that should come as little surprise, but what should also be noted is that more shrewd developers and publishers have realised that as people begin to upgrade to the new model, older models are passed down to younger siblings or children, as has been the case since the days of the Game Boy and it’s successor, the game Boy Pocket. Here, third-parties can find an all-new audience eager to adopt software of their own, and it’s here that Junior Brain Trainer: Maths Edition fits into the marketing puzzle.

            There have been many brain training titles on the Nintendo DS console, both for adults and for younger gamers. The success of Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training: How Old Is Your Brain? cannot be ignored, but it is a market that has since become saturated. Fewer and fewer titles have been launched in recent times, and with the Electronic Theatre Imageadvent of the Nintendo 3DS development of many of these games will be shifted to the new format. This leaves the door wide open for Junior Brain Trainer: Maths Edition from Uacari, a developer that seemingly specialises in software for younger children on the Nintendo DS.

            Beginning by entering your name, the player is then asked to select a difficulty setting from the three star-based options. Somewhat of a misnomer this early on, as before starting the game how is anyone, let alone a child, supposed to have a concept of what difficulty each setting represents? Beginning the game properly shows that Junior Brain Trainer: Maths Edition isn’t content with following the same path laid out by it’s brain training peers, providing a unique story with some pleasant hand-drawn artwork. Meeting Newton, a friendly airship piloting hamster, the player discovers that his friends are being held captive for experiments, and along with his friend Flanagan the player is asked to help Newton with his escape plan.

            By completing different maths challenges the player will be rewarded with new parts for the airship, eventually building to a complete overhaul for the vehicle. Successive challenges are unlocked in groups of three, but given that there are only fifteen challenges, and therefore only fifteen rewards, it surely won’t take many players long to work their way through to the end, however young they might be.

            Despite their brevity, each challenge is technically sound. The touchscreen detection reliable when it comes to handwriting detection – though numbers must be entered in the way the software demands, which may not be you natural method of writing them – and while the challenges add pressure through a time limit, it’s far from being too harsh. A significant step away from the mathematics tests on the above mentioned first-party releases, Uacari’s Junior Brain Trainer: Maths Edition is more concerned with children taking on board the lesson than beating theor own previous scores.

            The presentation of Junior Brain Trainer: Maths Edition is welcoming, with an animal fantasy feel, tinkering with miniature robotics and meeting with the encouraging personified characters of Newton and Flanagan before and after every challenge. The sound is also well designed, with clanking sound effects and a quirky musical accompaniment that perfectly fit the theme.

            As a brain training game designed to captivate a dwindling market, Junior Brain Trainer: Maths Edition isn’t about to set the videogaming world on fire. However, by the same regard, it’s facing far less competition than it would have done just a year ago, and will certainly be a welcome release of those with children coming to the age where a videogames console is suitable, but should be used for more than juts entertainment.

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