Brain Age became something of an unorthodox hit franchise for Nintendo on the DS and 3DS. Starring the disembodied polygonal head of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, Brain Age dresses up its puzzles as a way to estimate and improve your overall mental acuity. While that might be a tough placebo to swallow these days, Nintendo evidently still sees potential in the idea. A new version of Brain Age, complete with Dr. Kawashima's head and those age assessments, will be released for the Nintendo Switch in Japan on December 27.
Titled Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training in Japan, the Brain Age series doesn't look to be straying far from its mechanical roots for this new Switch installment. The announcement trailer for this new game could almost pass as a port of a previous Brain Age title. Like the 2005 original for the DS, this new Brain Age game seems primarily intended for handheld play with the console held in a vertical orientation, and it looks like Nintendo will release a touchscreen stylus to make all the arithmetic, sudoku, and rapid-fire puzzle solving easier to control.
The trailer does show some brand new features for Brain Age that take advantage of the Switch's detachable Joy-Con controllers. A few two-player concentration modes use the individual Joy-Cons as each players' counters, and the infrared camera on the right Joy-Con is now used in Brain Age's rock paper scissors mode to detect the shape of the player's hand. It looks like the rest of the modes shown off in the trailer should be playable on a Switch Lite, but expect anything that needs HD rumble, free-hand motion sensing, or the IR camera to be off-limits without additional Joy-Cons.
It looks like the new Brain Age will also take advantage of the Switch's online capabilities in various ways. There look to be leaderboards for certain game modes (though those could just be other profiles on the same Switch pictured) as well as a chart that shows your performance relative to other players. The trailer also shows that Brain Age can be set up to send progress reports to a phone.
There's no word on whether Brain Age will make its way to the Switch in other countries, but seeing as the original two installments for the Nintendo DS sold over 33 million units, it seems likely that it won't be exclusive to Japan forever. If it comes to the US, Nintendo will have to be careful to frame Brain Age as a training-themed game, as the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on unfounded claims about "brain training" apps in recent years.