Train your Japanese with 「もっと脳を鍛える」

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?

1. 断ちょうの思い

2. うじより育ち

3. 筆ぜつに尽くし難い

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.

1.  若男女

2. 言 道断

3.  刀直入

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!)

11 thoughts on “Train your Japanese with 「もっと脳を鍛える」

  1. Wow, this is the first game that’s made me want to get a DS!
    I have a question though: All these ones seem really hard, and I know it’s made for native-speakers, but are there easier questions that someone studying for JLPT 2級 standard would be able to do? I guess I know about 700 or so 漢字.
    Anyway, thanks for the information!

  2. sonuva… I’ve managed to avoid the draw of the DS even with my total addiction to all things Mario Kart, now you’re telling me I can legitimately help my Japanese by owning one?! Why would you do that me, Tae? If I happen to see you some day in a network version of Mario Kart – except some red shells, man.

    Do you know if there are any learning games directed towards english speakers learning Japanese of lower level? I’d be lucky if I could pass 3きゅう this December.

  3. Hmm… there is currently only the 大人 (adult) version but maybe they’ll create a 子供 version sometime?

    Scott, if you like Mario Kart, why don’t you get the new DS Lite with Mario Kart, 動物の森, and もっと脳を鍛える, the three most popular games for the DS. 動物の森 is probably good for learning Japanese as well since there’s a lot of dialogue with cute animals.

    What do you say? Sounds like a good idea, eh? (Cackles like the devil)

  4. Low blow, sir, low blow!

    Let’s see, DS Lite hits the States in the spring and I’ll be in Japan on my honeymoon in September. I’ll keep an eye out for kimchi314 on nwifi and keep a couple red shells ready.

  5. Given how popular the DS is in Japan, there’s got to be a “Japanese Study” game either in development or already out. It seems like a really great way to spend a couple minutes studying every day. Thanks for enabling my addiction.

  6. Rather than the old DS楽引辞典 you might want to hold off for the new 漢字そのままDS楽引辞典 as it adds handwritten kanji input (something sorely lacking in the original). There is also the tenatively named DS美文字トレーニング for practicing your kanji writing skills. 漢字そのまま is currently slated for release on 4/13 after being pushed back a few weeks. 美文字トレーニング is still undated.

    some pics at gpara:

  7. AFAIK 漢字そのまま doesn’t “add” handwritten kanji. It’s a 漢和辞典, while the first DS楽引辞典 is a 国語辞典/和英辞典/英和辞典. Therefore, you might want to buy both. I may be wrong though, so search on it.

  8. 1.  若男女???
    2. 言語道断
    3. 単刀直入
    4. 美人薄命

    I only know these from chinese and some guessing…

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