Dr. Kawashima returns this December
Remember those DS puzzle games that claimed they would keep your brain young? Fronted by the affable lo-poly quack Dr. Kawashima, the Brain Age games were supposed to appeal to older audiences by pitching games as something serious and useful. While Dr. Kawashima’s notion of “brain-age” smacks of pseudo-science, the games proved hugely successful both in Japan and outside.
Now Nintendo is finally gearing up to give our aging brains another workout with a new brain trainer, and the announcement trailer reveals that it is yet again ‘Supervised by Professor Ryota Kawashima, Institute for Aging Medicine, Tohoku University’ – and aimed towards senior audiences.
Dr. Kawashima trained our brains in 2005, ‘08 and ‘12
The game offers some new features no doubt inspired by mobile game engagement optimization, such as scheduled reminders and as always, it calculates your ‘brain age’ based on the speed with which you process information, your short-term memory ability and answering random questions.
Oh, and one of the activities puts the poor, neglected JoyCon IR camera to use by scanning your hand so you can give answers with your fingers, which unfortunately won’t be available on the Switch Lite. Now the big question is whether it’ll make its way to Western shores.
Time For A Quick Daily Quiz?
Which major mode was NOT included in the Japanese release of Brain Age?
- Brain Age Check
- Number Cruncher
- Voice Calculation
The answer will be revealed at the end of this issue!
Auto Chess for consoles in 2020
Dragonest Games’ competitive Auto Chess is coming to both PlayStation 4 and Switch next year. What started as a Dota 2 mod has taken on a life of its own, and has since hit iOS and Android as well as a PC release that – ironically enough – is exclusive to Epic Game Store.
Death Stranding’s ‘BB’ will speak through the DualShock 4 controller
Hideo Kojima has revealed that the baby strapped to Sam’s chest in Death Stranding can communicate through the DualShock 4’s built-in speaker. There has been some confusion whether the feature is exclusive to the incubator-themed DualShock 4 launching alongside the game, but it’s probably available on any DualShock 4 controller. If you don’t want creepy baby-speak emanating from your controller, you can disable the feature.
Game Boy’s Ninja Gaiden Shadow was never meant to be a prequel, but an adaptation
Ninja Gaiden Shadow for Game Boy was never meant to be a prequel, but an adaptation! Natsume and Tecmo released Ninja Gaiden Shadow in Japan, North America and Europe in 1991 and ‘92, and originally it didn’t have anything to do with the Ninja Gaiden series: It was meant to be an adapted port of Natsume’s NES title Shadow of the Ninja from 1990.
However, Tecmo bought the rights to Ninja Gaiden and decided they’d rather get more bang for their buck and reworked the Shadow of the Ninja port to be part of the Ninja Gaiden series. It was known as Shadow Warriors for Game Boy in Europe and Australia.
Planet Zoo is Jurassic World Evolution with less dinosaurs but more good
(Frontier Developments – PC)
Frontier Developments is slowly but surely turning into the king of management games. The team’s behind successes like Rollercoaster Tycoon, Planet Coaster and Jurassic Park Evolution, and now they’re mixing up Planet Coaster with Jurassic World to produce Planet Zoo, a zoo management game.
Planet Zoo isn’t out until November 5th, but we’ve spent some time with a beta. The beta only offers a small taste of the game, since the Career mode ends after the first mission, but it’s already quite an impressive game with tons of features. It almost borders on the staggering!
Walk with the animals, talk with the animals
In addition to Career mode, there’s a Franchise mode and the final release will also include a Sandbox mode. The franchise mode is much like the sandbox mode, but slightly more goal-oriented. Like the name implies, the goal is to set up and manage your very own world-wide chain of zoos.
That might sound a bit overwhelming, and it’s probably better to start out in Career mode, which not only acts like a tutorial, but gives you ready-built zoos to manage and expand. The biggest focus is on keeping the animals happy. If one of your critters has complaints, they are clearly spelled out for you – but there are always a number of ways to fix the problems.
If the lions don’t like their environment, you can weed out the plants they don’t like and replace them with something else, change the soil, add a swimming area or just shower them with toys until they’re too busy having fun to complain. There’s a lot of freedom to solve problems your own way.
Circle of life
There’s even more freedom in Franchise and Sandbox, and things can get quite overwhelming. There’s an astonishing range of options available, and clicking any button in the interface brings up enough choices to keep the most obsessive-compulsive micromanager busy for life. It’s maybe even a bit much for the casual player who just wants to build a zoo – do we really need several variations of 4m Asphalt Roof With Corners? Then there’s the veritable jungle of plants you can get lost in.
Fortunately, you quickly learn how to navigate the interface by playing the Career mode, and learn how to cut through the terrifying amount of options to find the basics. Build paths, vital buildings, enclosures, buy some animals, hire some staff and before you know it you’ve got visitors to keep happy too. It’s easy to spend hours noodling around with your park before you even open it.
If you’re looking for the kind of management sim where you can obsess over every strand of grass, Planet Zoo will keep you both happy and busy, guaranteed. If you just want to build a nice park for your adorable animal friends (and they are absolutely adorable), you might want to wait and see if the career mode offers enough to keep you happy, since Franchise and Sandbox mode require some serious dedication. In any case, Planet Zoo is already very impressive, and we can’t wait to play the full version!