Game Review: Junior Brain Trainer (DS)

BRAIN_BOXJunior Brain Trainer is an educational brain-training game for elementary school-aged children. It teaches early math, reading, and English skills, and it’s like having your very own school workbook right on your Nintendo DS.


The main game features five different random exercises that teach early elementary school skills. There’s math: addiction, subtraction, multiplication, and division. There are also spelling exercises, sentence structure, and other reading and English activities. Plus pair matching, geometry, and more. I’ve never encountered the same exercise twice, and the whole experience really took me back to my school days working out of workbooks where little illustrated animals inside taught us our multiplication tables.

There are three main problems with Junior Brain Trainer, though. One, sometimes the instructions to the exercises are not as clear. Sometimes I wasn’t sure at first if I needed to click on a blank to enter my answer, or drag and drop with the stylus. It’s easy to figure out with a little fiddling and noodling around, though.

BRAIN_SCREENThe second problem I had is that the game only takes one right answer, even if there could be more. For instance, one game wanted you to fill in the blank to spell words, and one of them was ‘R_IN.’ Well I put in ‘u’ to spell ‘ruin,’ but the game wouldn’t take it. They wanted ‘rain.’ Another time I was unscrambling letters to spell words and I came up with ‘finder,’ which was wrong according to the game. They wanted ‘friend.’ But when I was in school, there were TONS of instances where I had the right answer, but it wasn’t the one the teacher wanted.

The last main problem is how you unlock bonuses in the game. After doing a set of exercises daily, you’re supposed to be able to unlock a fun arcade game, quiz, or story to read. I managed to do that once, but on subsequent days, it would either say I’ve already unlocked a bonus for that day, or it wouldn’t unlock anything at all. Even when I manually changed the calendar on my DS. So I was a little unclear on how unlocking stuff worked. But the bonus activity I did unlock was pretty fun: it was a Pac-Man-like game where a snake gobbles up dots and grows, and you have to keep it from biting its ever-elongated tail (actually there was an arcade game like that called Nibbler). So I bet the other unlockable games are pretty entertaining, too.

Despite its problems, Junior Brain Trainer may be good math and reading practice for your elementary school kids. Obviously, early reading and math skills are a must. Junior Brain Trainer is rated E for Everyone.

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