Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo

Price: $19.99

Genre: Educational Puzzle

Platform(s): DS

Has summer vacation left you feeling a bit stupid? Fear not, and put down your painfully repetitive Sudoku puzzles, because "Brain Age 2" is here.

Like its predecessor, "Brain Age 2" is one of the few DS games that market the system for the general public, drawing in typical gamers and nongamers alike. That's because it isn't a game at all, but rather it's closer to the word puzzles and mind teasers you find in this newspaper — but better. You'll meet the creepy, yet loveable Dr. Ryuta Kawashima and train under his vigilance, gradually reducing your "brain age" (the peak age is 20) the more often you train.

The catch? You can only train for about 15-30 minutes a day, until you're bored with the available training modes, as they unlock gradually with continued play.

Nevertheless, "Brain Age 2" brings back some favorites from the original, tweaks a few and introduces several entirely new activities like playing along on a piano with sheet music, which will drive the non-musically gifted insane. It also introduces single-cartridge download play for up to four people. Although fun, it will likely be left untouched since rival game "Big Brain Academy" has a much better multiplayer mode.

The game is not without its flaws; the handwriting recognition could be a bit better, unless my T's are really that illegible, and you'll surely grow weary of holding your DS sideways. Yet overall it's a success, well worth the 20 bucks of anyone willing and wanting to sharpen his wits. Oh, and about my inflammatory Sudoku slight — they still are crappy puzzles, but "Brain Age 2" actually has 100 of them along with the good kind of puzzles, so you can still get your fix.

4 stars (out of 5)