Published on April 18th, 2006 | by Greg0
Brain Up with Brain Age; Fall Into Oblivion
It’s been a good couple of months for gamers: great new games available on most every system, plenty of patches and updates for older titles, and E3 just around the corner. We wanted to take a look at two very different games, on two (well, three) different systems.
Huge hits in Japan don’t always translate well to American popularity. But Brain Age, a new title for the Nintendo DS, should make a strong showing- it’s a fun game for all ages, and is easy to pickup and somewhat hard to put down. Best of all, it brings Sudoku puzzles to the DS, a natural fit.
The game’s central idea is that you can “train” your brain to work better and faster, and measure your progress, with a series of simple exercises. These are kind of like mini-games, and range from arithmetic problems to counting syllables. The handwriting recognition system may take some getting used to, and the repetitive comments can get just a tad annoying- but you can’t stay mad at an animated version of the creator of the game. Brain Age is $20, available now, and is recommended for anyone older than 14 who is looking for something more like crossword puzzles than shoot-’em-ups.
On a different, and similarly good note is the new RPG, Oblivion. Available for the PC and the Xbox 360, it’s the best selling game of the last few weeks- we’ve tried both versions, and will briefly talk about the differences in a minute. First, the similarities: it’s a great game on either system, possibly the best RPG ever made, and is an incredible value- you can play for hundreds of hours with a single character and not get too bored or exhaust your options. It’s one of the few games where you can truly forget the main quest, and create your own paths, freely.
The game isn’t for everyone- it will suck up a fair amount of time, and you’ll need a pretty powerful computer to play (or an Xbox 360). But the game is deep and wide, with some stunning graphics, serious leaps in game storytelling and character development, and a seriously huge amount of world to explore. Games have tried before, but none have so successfully combined the various pieces (true multiple paths like System Shock and Deus Ex, an “explore the world” feel games like Myst and plenty of RPG and even FPS concepts).
The differences, briefly: the PC version won’t look as good unless you have true top-of-the-line equipment. The Xbox version doesn’t support all of the user-created modifications. Both versions, though, have plenty of material available for a small price (around $2) from the developer, and the first major release just came out and is quite worth it. Either way, Oblivion is far too large a game to be discussed in any reasonable amount of space, so we’ll simply say this: if you like RPGs at all, and you don’t mind the lack of online play, try Oblivion.