Genre: Puzzle
Year: 2005
Developed by: Nintendo Software Planning & Development
Published by: Nintendo
Platforms: DS
Feeling Like: Get Smarterer

Something you notice after playing hundreds of video games is you start to see a lot of repetition. Not only in individual solutions to puzzles, bosses and secret areas, but in the category of games themselves. It’s very rare, and difficult, to produce something entirely original that doesn’t borrow heavily from previous entries in an industry. This is not a problem unique to video games.

As a presenter of completely unimportant, but hopefully entertaining, analysis on the hobby of gaming, it presents me with an unavoidable question; will I find something endearing purely because it’s different, rather than being good? Should I be eternally  critical of the same and constantly praise the new? We’re only at number 479 on the list and we’ve already seen a direct sequel presented, Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day. What does this bode for the rest of the list?

I was dreading this write-up. Should I cheat, and slot in another game at number 479 and pretend like I didn’t already spend hours memorizing number tables, or working out math problems or playing fifty more Sudoku puzzles? An answer eluded me. So, I do what I always do when I can’t think, or write. I read, listen and play.

I can’t tell what I’m focusing on more – the numbers, or how crappy the resolution is on his picture.

Sid Meier’s Civilization 6 is one of the most addicting, challenging, gargantuan games I’ve ever played. There are limitless options for choosing different races, technologies, units and maps. You can play a quick one hour session or endure a marathon that could take weeks of play. I could also use that exact description for Sid Meier’s Civilization 2, 3, 4, 5, Beyond Earth and the even bigger list of expansions/DLC.

But as I sat down to play as Teddy Roosevelt and go for a military-themed domination victory over the English, German and Spanish, I realized I didn’t care. It didn’t matter that I’d played it before. It was still fun. Really fun. Add a level of polish never seen before, some great new gameplay additions, new achievements to strive for and a constant reminder of how far we’ve come as a species and how far we’ve got to go. It’s sort of inspiring and impossible to stop playing within a reasonable time limit. One more turn? Good luck.

It’s totally reasonable to enjoy, despite the absence of new. I’ve watched the same Nostalgia Critic videos over and over when I want something comforting. I’ve read Calvin and Hobbes far more than is necessary. But if what’s being presented stimulates something in you, why bother complaining? Nobody was forcing me to play Brain Age 2: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day. I bought it, enjoyed it and now it’s here on the internet for the next foreseeable civilization.

I don’t think this conclusion was exactly what they meant by training my brain, but just thinking about Brain Age 2 DID get my creative juices going. Thanks, in no small part, to the Teddy Bear and his Rough Riders gallivanting across the jungles to invade the Spanish capital.

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