“Play a video game and get smarter! At least in theory.”
- An original way to use the Kinect
- The cognitive benefits are solid
- Shows potential for gaming
- Not enough content
- Too much repetition
- The ranking system is off
Let’s be honest, the Kinect is never going to have the same types of titles that the games using controllers have. There just isn’t the same level of depth that can be utilized when you can only mimic movement and all commands are done through time based highlighting of certain areas on the TV. If you want to select something, you hold your hand over the proper icon and wait until the bar fills up and the selection registers. You will never be able to pull off a satisfying 11-hit combo that finishes with a pile driver, nor will you ever be able to effectively use cover while under fire when you don’t have the ability to walk in the direction of your choice. It just isn’t going to happen.
Instead, clever developers are not trying to recreate the standard gaming experience without hands, they are coming up with new ideas that could only work on the Kinect, and adapting popular genres that wouldn’t typically appeal to the hardcore gamers. It is a push towards the casual gaming market, as well as move to specifically target the party game crowd. And that is exactly what Namaco Bandai has done with its new title Body and Brain Connection.
The game is designed to help people by offering simple mini-games that will help to exercise your brain and keeping you physically active. Body and Brain is also a game that parents should be able to quickly get behind. In fact, it is an easy fit for the home. If your kid likes video games, why not get them a video game designed by a “renowned neuroscientist” that can actually help them learn? The game sells itself like it is actually good for you, and it very well may be.
The idea of taking a game from the “brain training” genre is a natural fit for the Kinect. Adding physical movements to puzzles only further expands on what can be done. In fact, calling it a game is almost a misnomer because at its core, Body and Brain is a tool, albeit a fun one. When you first begin the “training”, it is fun and interesting. The more you play, the more difficult the problems become, and so the more benefit you reap from it. But behind the good idea that is Body and Brain Connection, lies the ugly specter of repetition. Even the most enticing mini-game can grow old quickly, and while Body and Brian is an impressive title at times, it could soon wear thin on all but the most resolute of players.
How It Works
With each category, the challenges offer puzzles and problems that typically require physical actions to solve. For example in the math sections, one of the first games you will play involves simple arithmetic. The problem is displayed above, and the answer is on one of two soccer balls displayed at your avatar’s feet. Once you have the answer, you then kick the corresponding ball into the net. Another puzzle has you watching the hands on a clock before they disappear. You follow the pattern and move your arms into the proper position where the hands should be before the timer runs out. Another game features arrows displayed in various places, and you must ignore where those arrows are, and instead you move your arms in the direction that the arrows are pointing as quickly as possible.
Once you have completed the game, you can go back and replay it on a harder level of difficulty. The arithmetic becomes algebra, the clock hands begin to move multiple spaces and disappear earlier, and the arrows appear in positions designed to try to fool you. As you complete each game, you are awarded a grade which you can accept or attempt to approve upon.
You track your progress primarily through the “age of your brain”. When you pop in the game for the first time, the game will run you through a few simple, time based problems. From that it will award you an age, and with each better score, and with each faster time, the age of your brain improves. Each day you will also find a new set of challenges which are offered based on previous results, in order to help you improve upon specific areas that you need help with.
The game claims to have been designed with the help of neuroscientist Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, one of the original people behind the brain-training genre, which is growing in America and is huge in Japan. The idea is that the games will help to train you mentally, while the physical nature is also beneficial to you.
The science behind it is no doubt sound, and the idea of using a video game to improve yourself is alluring. There is also a multiplayer which can make for some fun party games among people that enjoy brain-teaser based games. In that sense, Body and Brain is going right where the Kinect wants to—towards casual gamers.
The idea behind this game is both fun and appealing. Play a video game and get smarter—sounds good, right? But there is also the boredom factor that will soon descend upon players of any age as you quickly burn through the existing games and puzzles. There is always the potential of more games via DLC in the future, but that is a possibility not a certainty, and even if it were guaranteed the retail package is still a bit underwhelming.
All in all, Body and Brain Connection is a great idea that will keep gamers of all ages–from kids looking to learn to adults hoping for a bit of light stimulus—entertained for a while. It is something of a Catch-22. Many that play this game every now and then will probably find it interesting and a fun distraction, but to really benefit from it you must use it constantly, which will almost certainly chase people away once the tedium begins.
The concept of this title is impressive, and hopefully more games are on the way that can turn the Xbox 360 and the Kinect into something more than just a gaming system. Body and Brain is a tool that can be used to show real and practical benefits to the lives of gamers (at least to a small degree).
Body and Brain Connection is a good game/tool for those looking for something unique to do with their Kinect, and for people that enjoy brain teasers and puzzles which could offer real life benefits to the gamer. Odds are most won’t be able to continue to play the game for too long without getting bored, but in small doses, the game is solid. If you are a Kinect owner that is looking for something worthwhile to add to your collection, then Body and Brain Connection might be the game for you.
Score: 7 out of 10
(This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360 on a copy provided by Namco Bandai)
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