Namco Bandai – Dr Kawashima’s Body and Brain Exercises review

Do you know your brain age?
Photo of Namco Bandai – Dr Kawashima’s Body and Brain Exercises

Dr Kawashima has made the move from the Nintendo DS to the Xbox in a Kinect-powered title that brings a touch of light exercise into a largely cognitive workout. Essentially, this is a selection of 20 mini-games that must be conquered by pointing, kicking and generally flailing your limbs around.

Get yourself Kinected
Players have to use their arms to indicate the time on a big clockface, burst numbered balloons in order, match up shapes, memorise number sequences, and answer ‘greater or less than’ maths questions. This might sound a bit dull – and, to tell the truth, some activities are – but the majority are carefully designed and challenging enough to remain quite engaging.

A few more novel games are thrown in, too, such as guiding Pac-Man away from rampant ghosts, or using your arms as bridges for vehicles to drive across. But the biggest issue with Dr Kawashima’s Body and Brain Exercises is that the motion controls don’t work too well with some of the games.

When booting footballs around to answer maths sums, occasionally a kick doesn’t register. The whack-a-mole – well, whack-a-mouse – rodent bashing game can be infuriatingly imprecise. The two-player version of Pac-Man just didn’t seem to function properly at all.

And speaking of the game’s two- to four-player party mode, this is disappointing all round. The mini-tournaments are too short, the presentation irritating, and players aren’t scored either.

You’re told who’s in the lead – although it’s possible at the end, if no one has done very well, for the game simply to declare nobody the winner. You’re all losers, Dr Kawashima pretty much informs you, before throwing his clipboard down in disgust and storming back off to the lab for a much-needed coffee.

Even so, we kept coming back on a daily basis to try and better our brain age, and compete on the high score tables for individual events.

Company: Namco Bandai

A simple but largely enjoyable collection of Kinect mini-games, Dr K definitely gives the player a good mental workout - and a tongue lashing when they don't perform. Some of the activities suffer from ropey motion controls, and the multiplayer party mode is disappointing in its implementation. But if you enjoy a challenge, Body and Brain Exercises is still worth buying - though we'd be tempted to wait for a bit of a price drop.