Chances are that you’ve spent a fair amount of time having your mental age judged by Professor Kawashima, the floating omnipotent head present in both of Nintendo’s Brain Age games on the DS. What you might not have known is that Kawashima actually isn’t a Nintendo creation. The Professor’s Brain Training books have topped Japanese bestseller lists for years, and now, Namco is bringing him back to the gaming world in a Kinect-powered Xbox game that shuns the stylus for hand gestures and arm waving.
At a Japanese Xbox 360 conference held today, Namco unveiled a new Brain Training title called Karada de Kotareu Atarashii Nou-tore (Respond With your Body: New Brain Training, for picky English speakers). Similar to the previous Brain Age titles for the DS, you solve problems related to math, memory, and critical thinking. The difference this time is that you solve these problems through physical motions, doing things like kicking a soccer ball at the correct sum of two numbers.
The game will ask players to do things like read a digital clock and make the correct analog positions with their arms or to form roads with their limbs to guide cars into a parking spot. Other problems require players to touch balloons in the order of the numbers printed on their shells and match the pose of a randomly-picked avatar. One particularly neat minigame, based on Pac-Man, tasks players with guiding the little yellow guy with their right hand while protecting a piece of fruit from enemy ghosts with their left.
Dr. Kawashima supervised the development of the game, working closely with Namco’s team on the problem design. It is not yet known whether he’ll make an appearance in the game itself, but I certainly won’t be satisfied until I see a giant floating head.
Respond With your Body: New Brain Training will launch with the Kinect in Japan on November 20th. Namco has made no comment on an American release, but with the huge success of Nintendo’s Brain Age titles, it seems like it is only a matter of time.