I managed to find a used copy of 「もっと脳を鍛える」, the popular sequel to 「脳を鍛える」 for the Nintendo DS for only 2500 yen. This game is probably one of the hottest selling games now and even variety shows have jumped on the bandwagon by doing quizzes and checking the brain age of celebrities. I picked it up without hesitation because I knew it would help train my Japanese in addition to my brain. (Plus, it was cheap)
The game measures your brain age or 「脳年齢」 and you can play little quizzes that are supposed to help train it to a younger age (younger is better). The questions for each type of quiz change the next day once you play them and you stamp a hanko on each day that you play. New types of quizzes are unlocked as you accumulate hanko stamps on the calendar.
There are all sorts of quizzes you can play, including 5 games that will test your Japanese as well: １）漢字書取、２）漢字合成、３）音読差分、４）四字熟語、and ５）英単書取. I’ll briefly talk about the two games I play most often to help train my Japanese.
漢字書取：The classic kanji quiz
You are given a small phrase with one kanji written in hiragana and you have to write the kanji. I aced the first quiz but it just seems to get harder and harder everyday and now this quiz totally kicks my ass mostly because I don’t even know the word much less the kanji. This quiz is great for learning new vocabulary and brushing up your kanji skills because you can re-test the ones you got wrong everyday until you get it right.
Here are some from the last time I played that totally kicked my ass. Can you get them right?
四字熟語：Do you know your 四字熟語?
I don’t. Well, I only know about 10 of the easiest 四字熟語 and so I get my ass handed to me on a platter on this game. I felt pretty good in the first quiz, getting the easy ones right like 「一石二鳥」 or 「以心伝心」 but now I’m lucky if I get just two right. Unlike the first kanji game, you don’t even get hiragana, just a blank spot where one of the characters is missing.
Of course, you don’t have to know all these 四字熟語 but it’s telling that native folks will know most of them even while they’re telling you that you probably won’t need to know them.
Can you fill in the blank kanji? I couldn’t but thanks to the game, I can now.
2. 言 道断
4. 美 薄命
But should I buy it?
Sure, why not? It really is a fun game and perfect for the daily commute. Plus, if you go to a store with used games, you can probably get it for around 2000 yen like me. If you don’t have a Nintendo DS, with the new Nintendo DS Lite coming out, now is an ideal time to get one!
(Feel free to write the answers in the comments and no cheating!)