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‘Body and Brain Connection’ brings motion-control to brain training

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Mathercize!

There's no shortage of games out there purporting to liven
up your brain, and you can barely swing a Wiimote without hitting an exergame
designed to keep you physically fit. But what about a combination of the two?

That's the premise behind Namco's Body
and Brain Connection. Releasing February 8, it's the first brain training
game for Microsoft's controller-free Kinect camera.

Check out the best-selling brain games

Starring Dr. Ryuta Kawashima -- the very same digitized doc who took you through the paces in Nintendo's genre-defining Brain Age games -- Body and Brain Connection  attempts to bulk up both your gray matter and your muscles at the same time. The game initially tests you to determineyour 'brain age', after which you'll engage in 20 different minigames in an effort to lower that number and sharpen your synapses.

But rather than poking at numbers with a stylus, Body and Brain has you reaching out to pop numbered balloons, shaping your arms to direct color-coded traffic, kicking soccer balls to solve math equations, and in a particularly inspired twist, simultaneously guiding both Pac-Man and a delicious piece of fruit through a maze. Like other brain games, it includes a daily stat tracker, plus it goes an extra mile by letting up to three friends
smarter up together playing multiplayer games.

Thus far, reaction has been mixed. Gamepro describes it as a "solid brain-training title that packs a fascinating concept" in a 3.5/5 review, though game website Ars Technica called it "uneven" in a hands-on preview.

Regardless of the critical response, however, Namco hopes the Kinect game will kick off a new wave of interest in training games. The company recently announced
DualPenSports for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS handheld, a sports collection that
includes training modes designed to improved "dual hand" dexterity.

So will Body and Brain Connection really strengthen your brain? The jury's still out on that one -- for every study supporting the efficacy of brain-training games, there's an equally compelling counter-argument -- but thanks to Kinect, you'll at least move around a lot more.

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