Kiasu Parents’ Guide to the Nintendo DS

Kids these days are born digital and mobile.  We see them hunched over electronic games everywhere from bus-stops to shopping centres.  While we parents are generally wary of gaming consoles, treating them mostly as mere toys, the Nintendo DS is rapidly evolving into the next generation platform for educational software.

Nintendo DS Lite

The NDS is built upon the same winning principles of the original Gameboy series – simplicity, portability, and most importantly – casual fun.  But it also included 2 key elements missing from the previous Gameboy generations – touch pad input and a microphone.  Of course, there’s that dual screen unique to the NDS, but it is these 2 simple features that open up the device to an entirely new genre of games; and a whole new hitherto untapped market of casual gamers that span right across the age and sex groups.

No longer do you need to remember complicated key sequences to play games… you just point and click, or scream or blow into the microphone – simple actions that even young toddlers can – and love – to do.

Nintendogs was the NDS’ initial claim to fame.  It was essentially the next generation Tamagotchi, only several orders of magnitude more realistic.  Few children and even women can resist the cute cuddly dogs that respond to their touch and even calls to their name.  Having a dog in the pocket became a reality.

But it was Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Age brain training software that really started the avalaunch of titles on the NDS thare are targeted at children as low as 3 years old.  Previously, educational software has always been in the domain of the PC.  You buy CDROM titles, install it in your Windows or Macintosh computer, and put your kid in front of the computer.  But how many times have you struggled to just install the title?  A number of these software simply wouldn’t run on machines that are too old or too new.  And you can’t bring the PC along on your road trips to keep the kids occupied.

At a price point of about S$200, the value proposition of a gaming cum educational platform becomes too hard to resist for most parents, and it is easy to see why most NDS today are sold packaged together with the BrainAge software.  Instead of buying a proprietary and dedicated educational system such as those from companies like V-Tech or LeapFrog which can cost as much as the base NDS unit, parents can literally invest in a solution that is age-proof, and with much easier-to-obtain educational software titles.  The latest NDS Lite is also small, portable, and easily handled by toddlers as young as 3 years old.  The same unit can potentially be used for handwriting training, drawing, phonetics and music training, something that is evident from the newer titles that are starting to appear in the market.

So now, for a change, parents can buy a game console without feeling guilty about being over indulgent.  While the NDS does not have the processing and graphics prowess of its arch-rival Sony PSP, I personally feel that it is much more relevant to children under Primary 6 based on the availability of suitable software titles for that age group.

Buying the NDS is just the first step.  The greater difficulty is shopping for the right software titles for your child amongst the thousands of titles that are available for the console.  Fortunately, here at Kiasuparents.com, we have already done this for you.  Below are good educational titles that we recommend you consider buying.

Check back here often as we will keep updating this list as new titles become available. 

 

BRAIN TRAINING

Brain Age Cover

 Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day for Nintendo DS is a fun, rewarding form of entertainment everyone can enjoy, as it helps players flex their mental muscles. Brain Age is inspired by the research of Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, a prominent Japanese neuroscientist. His studies evaluated the impact of performing certain reading and mathematic exercises to help stimulate the brain.

Brain Age presents quick mental activities that help keep your DS brain in shape. Activities include quickly solving simple math problems, counting people going in and out of a house simultaneously, drawing pictures on the Touch Screen, reading classic literature out loud, and more. You can also play sudoku!

We all know as we grow older our bodies change and it becomes important to regularly exercise to maintain health and fitness. Our brain is no different. "Use it or lose it," as the adage goes. New research indicates mental acuity may be strengthened, like muscles, with brain exercises.  That’s where Brain Age comes in.

Dr. Elizabeth Zelinski, dean and executive director of University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, says games like Brain Age can help keep older generations of Americans’ minds active. “Americans can do a great deal to maintain and even improve their mental abilities,” Zelinski explains. “Aging is about taking on new challenges for our minds. Nintendo’s Brain Age is a great way to do that.”

Check out the Brain Age website for more details.

 

Brain Age 2

Brain Age2: More Training in Minutes a Day! for Nintendo DS 

Give your brain the workout it needs.  Exercise is the key to good health both for body and mind – and now, with the Brain Age games, there’s a way to make mental exercise fun, even competitive. Just minutes a day, that’s all it takes to challenge your mind and, with Nintendo DS portability, you can play Brain Age at work, on vacation, or anywhere your day takes you.

  • Fun pick-up-and-play activities.  Brain Age’s intuitive gameplay makes brain training easy for everyone. Train across fifteen activities. Solve simple math problems, recite piano songs, play a challenging version of rock, paper, scissors, and test your memory skills in the classic game, Concentration. You’ll love your mental workout!
  • Play Sudoku!  When you’re done with training for the day, try your hand solving 100 Sudoku puzzles! The Nintendo DS’s Touch Screen makes writing the numbers a snap.

 

Put your mind to the test at the Big Brain Academy!

Big Brain Academy, the second title in Nintendo’s series of brain games, challenges you with a course load of mind-bending activities and an addictive Multiplayer Mode!   Big Brain Academy brings a fresh entertainment anyone young and young at heart can enjoy. It’s the perfect way to challenge and stimulate your mind. 

Personally, I find Big Brain academy a great deal more fun and suitable for children under the age of 8, compared with Brain Age which tends to take a more scientific approach.  The challenges are classified under categories such as analytical, memory, computation, etc.  It’s scoring system of issuing medal (bronze, silver and gold) for making personal records is unique and effective in getting children glued to the screens.  My son loves it.

 

After training their brains with Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day, users can now sharpen their Focus Power with Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day.  Fast, fun activities and quick-play sports challenges give eyes the challenging workout they need.

  • Boost Your Focus Power: Train with quick, fun activities based on vision-training programs used by top athletes.
  • Put eyes to real-world tests: Take a swing at a speeding pitch, outmaneuver incoming linebackers and strike the soccer ball into the goal in fun, sports-based training activities.
  • Pick up and play every day: Users complete daily training activities to challenge Hand-Eye Coordination, Peripheral Vision, Dynamic Visual Acuity, Momentary Vision and Eye Movement, then track their results with a calendar and easy-to-understand charts.

Note that this title is meant to train focus power, and does not improve eye-sight!

 

Left Brain Right BrainAre you a “righty” or a “lefty”?  What if you could be both?  With Left Brain Right Brain, you can hone your mental skills to become truly ambidextrous.  While training your hands with speed based DS mini-games, you’ll also be training the left and right hemispheres of your brain. It’s like two games in one! 

  • Use the Touch Screen in 15 different mini-games based on speed, accuracy, association, recognition, memory and strategy.
  • Games include: Connect the Dots, Pop the Balloons, Feel the Music, Hit the Monsters, Touch the Green Square, Save the World, Open the Safe, Trace the Shape, Navigate the Maze and many more.
  • Book-style play has you flipping the DS over and around to develop your hand-eye coordination with both left and right hand.
  • Master 4 single player game modes: Hand Exercises, Balance Check, Left Hand vs. Right Hand and Ambidexterity Check.
  • Challenge a friend to 2-player mini-game tests via DS download play.
  • Practice any activity, over 5 difficulty levels, to prepare for ambidexterity tests.
  • Monitor personal progress and assess improvement with development percentages for each hand that appear after play.

 

Master Jin Jin's IQ Challenge

Master Jin Jin’s IQ Challenge

Let master Jin Jin guide you through five styles of IQ Challenges while you try to achieve his highest rating.

As you play the game, your progress in each category is tracked and Master Jin Jin automatically adjusts the puzzles to your level of ability.

Stretch your mind with 10 different challenge types in 5 categories, each with multiple levels of difficulty.  Over 300 Fun Intelligence Teasers.

Categories include: Reasoning – Observation – Intuition – Analysis – Tenacity 

This game suffers from occasional mis-spellings and its Riddle feature is non-interactive.  Not recommended for language purists.

 


 

ACADEMIC

 Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?  From the TV sets in your homes to your PCs and Nintendo DS game systems, ValuSoft is releasing a video game version of the popular television series “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”.  Based on the wildly successful game show that was the highest-rated premiere on television in 13 years, consumers can now determine if they are smarter than a 5th grader.

This trivia game will challenge players with 23 categories and over 3,000 questions.  There will be the usual drama of a grade school classroom, with players forming alliances and working their way to the head of the class by cheating and copying off students – all with the hilarious narration of host, Jeff Foxworthy.

  • Test your knowledge with 3000 questions in 28 categories that include Art, English, Math, Music, Reading, Science, Social Studies, Geography and History.
  • "Drop Out" of the game and your player keeps the money that you have earned. 
  • Choose from 5 different virtual 5th graders to help you reach the jackpot. Use "saves" like "Peek" and "Copy" to stay in the game

 

Spelling Challenges

In Spelling Challenges and More! is themed around a spelling game show.

Your host Mr. Niceguy introduces the game and awards dollars and prizes for correct answers.

In addition to Spelling Challenge there are many word games to test your skills and improve your brain, with opportunities to acquire bonuses by going for broke. The words will increase in difficulty as you progress.

With over 25,000 words to spell and 100 difficulty levels, Spelling Challenges and More! offers something for everyone.

 

Math PlayIn Math Play, you get to put your math skills to the test as you arrange colorful numbered cards and create equations in four challenging game play modes. With a variety of difficulty levels, competitive multiplayer action and addictive puzzle play, Math Play is a wonderful game for the whole family, young and old alike. No matter how you play, it adds up to great fun!

Single-Card Download multiplayer fun 1-5 players

 

Interesting concept if it works as advertised, but there are reports of problems such as software bugs.  There are also people who said that kids do not find it fun enough to use beyond an hour.

 


 

PRE-SCHOOL

Build-A-Bear Workshop

The Build-A-Bear Workshop game will give young gamers the chance to virtually personalize a furry friend of their liking, name, brush and care for it and buy virtual clothes and accessories to unlock mini-games.

Building off of the success of 300+ Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, the Game Factory will give gamers a chance to fully interact with their furry friend just like a Guest in the real-world store.

Build-A-Bear is a Nintendo DS simulation that recreates the in-store experience. Gameplay offers a unique immersive experience, which replicates the process of shopping and creating a Bear when entering a Build-A-Bear Workshop store. The game allows you to approach the Build-A-Bear Workshop concept with the same hands-on and do it yourself formula. This level of interactivity is achieved through the use of the touch screen, wireless technology, enhanced graphics and innovative control mechanism.

Choose, create and customize your own personal virtual Bear and participate in various activities with your new furry friend.  Learn how to perform moves with the DS trick control, earn honey nuggets by completing challenges and buy up to 150 different clothing accessories.  Spend some time in the photo studio and share your photo album and clothes collection wirelessly with your friends.  Enjoy an afternoon in the backyard playground using the swing and various ball games.  Become a professional fashion photographer and set-up photo shoots in the Build-A-Bear photo studio Change your Bear outfits, select the zoom and camera angle, modify the backdrop and direct your character’s poses.

While spending time in the bathroom, help your bear clean his teeth Interact wirelessly with your friends to trade items or challenge each other in the mini games.

  • Test your skills in the dancing game by drawing the right shapes at the right time with your stylus on cue in order to hold the rhythm of the music.
  • Play dress-up and mix and match up to 150 fashion accessories.
  • Control two bears at a time with your stylus and collect honey while dodging bees. 
  • Make sure you don’t pick the last seat paying musical chair.

 

Interactive Storybook DS 1

Interactive Storybook DS: Series 1 Nintendo DS.  By bringing together several timeless classic stories and putting an innovative interactive twist on them, young children will expand their minds and imagination as the stories come to life like never before! This game utilizes the unique features of the Nintendo DS, along with several fun and educational mini-games that are linked to the stories. This first volume includes "The Three Little Pigs" and other classic stories.

These Classic Stories offer humor, fun and a moral message that any parent of any culture or generation would appreciate. All included stories are timeless and will continued to be passed on from generation after generation, albeit with a positive twist.

  • Interaction: Every page of these stories contain interactive elements that fully utilize the power of the Nintendo DS, bringing still animations to life.
  • Reading-Out-Loud: Every story is read out loud by a professional voice over actress, allowing the parent and child more time to interact with one another.
  • There are several mini-games within this title that links to the stories. Each game has a lasting appeal, and an educational touch – meaning every moment spent will not be a moment wasted.
  • Also, included is a coloring book, musical instrument with recording ability, a numbers counting game and a free-form drawing book.

 

Interactive Storybook DS Series 2

Interactive Storybook DS: Series 2 Nintendo DS.  A "book" of classic stories that are read out loud and feature interactive elements.

Featuring the stories The Frog Prince , The Ant and the Grasshopper , The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse and The Dragon’s Riddle.

Your kids may never want to put this title down once they start playing, and for once, you will be okay with that!  By bringing together several timeless classics and putting an innovative interactive twist on them, young children will expand their minds and imaginations, as the stories come to life like never before.

Utilizing the unique features of the Nintendo DS, along with several fun and educational mini-games that are linked to the stories, and you got yourself a gift that will lead your loved ones on a path to learning!

 

Interactive Storybook DS Series 3

Interactive Storybook DS: Series 3 Nintendo DS.

Featuring the following stories: The Golden Axe and the Silver Axe, The Old Man Cherry Blossom, The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats and A Dog of Flanders.

Your kids may never want to put this title down once they start playing, and for once, you will be okay with that!  By bringing together several timeless classics and putting an innovative interactive twist on them, young children will expand their minds and imaginations, as the stories come to life like never before.

Utilizing the unique features of the Nintendo DS, along with several fun and educational mini-games that are linked to the stories, and you got yourself a gift that will lead your loved ones on a path to learning!

 

I Spy - Fun House

I Spy Funhouse

In I SPY Fun House, players find themselves trapped inside a carnival Fun House, tasked with collecting nine inventory items that will "unlock" the exit. Full of twists and turns, optical illusions and surprises around every corner, the Fun House will consist of six I SPY riddle screens, 18 I SPY riddles, and three fast-paced games to challenge the mind. As players pan around the room, they will be able to visually recognize different objects that populate the Fun House. These objects are the gateways into the games and riddles that must be completed to escape the Fun House.

Suitable for children from 5-10 years old.

 

Animal Genius

Animal Genius

Players must master over 140 rounds of diverse game play to populate five different habitats with animals and rack up points in an immersive game that pushes animal knowledge to the next level. Using the Nintendo DS stylus, players must compete in five different games, which require a combination of quick thinking and sharp reflexes. The five games include Creature Collector, Scratch ‘N See, Matchomatic, Maze Munch and Animal Expert. ESRB Rated E for Everyone.

Suitable for 4-8 year olds.

 

Crayola Treasure Adventures

Crayola Treasure Adventures

Crayola Treasure Adventures will draw out your creative side as well as your sense of adventure, as you color, sketch, and think your way through numerous exotic locations, challenging puzzles, and exciting adventures. Crayola Treasure Adventures also offers a digital coloring book that lets the young artist run wild with their imagination through more than a hundred different digital crayons and pictures.  Crayola Treasure Adventures truly epitomizes the art of childhood by offering a creative escape right on your Nintendo DS!

  • In Story mode, restore a world’s stolen color with the help of your crayon friend Tip!  Challenging and fast-paced puzzles.
  • Coloring Book Mode has 120 crayons and over 100 different pictures to choose from, as well as eraser and marker options.
  • ESRB Rated E for Everyone.

 

Smart Kids Game Club

Smart Kid’s Gameclub

A virtual Preschool in the palm of your hands! This title is filled with fun, exciting wholesome activites for boys and girls! One of the first and only developmentally appropriate preschool games for the Nintendo DS, Smart Kids GameClub is a great entry point for young children who want to have fun and get into the world of casual video games. By keeping the titles fun and simple, while providing a challenging and rewarding experience, children will be able to gain a wholesome experience that any parent will be comfortable with.

  • A collection of games and activites made for your little boy or girl.
  • With over 25 mini-games that bring out your child’s talents, this title will keep your little ones occupied for hours.
  • Enter birthdays of up to 3 people, and on that day, a special greeting will appear.
  • Parents can even record 2 messages directly into the game, so when your children do well in an activity, a familiar voice will appear congratulating them on their accomplishment. This helps build a child’s confidence and self-esteem.

 

Smart Boy's GameroomSmart Boy’s Gameroom

A perfect start for young children who want to get into the world of casual videogames! By keeping the titles fun and simple, while providing a challenging and rewarding experience, children will be able to gain a wholesome experience. Filled with fun, exciting and wholesome games for boys, they’ll have fun with this title for hours on end. It’s like having a closet of family fun games that can travel with you anywhere!

  • Fun For Boys: An assortment of mini-games specifically made for boys.
  • With over 12 mini-games that bring out your child’s talents, this title will keep your little one’s preoccupied for hours.
  • Aimed at parent’s who are conscious of the plethora of inappropriate content for children, this title aims to give child and parent a great alternative into the world of casual videogames.

 

Smart Girl's PlayhouseSmart Girl’s Playhouse

A perfect start for young children who want to get into the world of casual videogames! By keeping the titles fun and simple, while providing a challenging and rewarding experience, children will be able to gain a wholesome experience. Filled with fun, exciting and wholesome games for girls, they’ll have fun with this title for hours on end. It’s like having a closet of family fun games that can travel with you anywhere!

  • Fun For Girl: An assortment of mini-games specifically made for girls.
  • With over 12 mini-games that bring out your child’s talents, this title will keep your little one’s preoccupied for hours.
  • Aimed at parent’s who are conscious of the plethora of inappropriate content for children, this title aims to give child and parent a great alternative into the world of casual videogames.

 


 

PUZZLES

WordJong

Wordjong is a cross of scrabble and mahjong.

Highly addictive wordplay: Use sets of lettered tiles to create words, clearing the board as you use tiles. Play against any of seven AI opponents in Battle mode, beat the high score in Daily Mode, or earn rank medals as you climb your way to the top in Temple Challenge Mode. Take on friends via Local Wireless, or battle WordJong players around the world via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

WordJong features simple, yet engrossing gameplay: Shoot for high-scoring words, earn bonus tiles, and work to clear the board with no leftover letters. WordJong boasts several new features exclusive to the Nintendo DS system, including local and online wireless play as well as DS Download play, a variety of Solo Play modes, a 100,000+ word dictionary, full support for both the Control Pad and Touch Screen.

 

Neves

NEVES is a unique puzzle game that challenges players to think critically as they align pieces and build figures that correspond to a silhouette. Each puzzle features seven wooden blocks, requiring the player to combine them to form specific figures ranging from simple items like a sword or key to more complicated ones such as birds or airplanes.

NEVES appeals to anyone who enjoys challenging puzzles. And because of the unique stylus controls of the Nintendo DS, controlling the puzzle pieces in NEVES is a cinch; tilting, flipping, and moving the blocks is as simple as dragging and tapping. But be careful, just because controlling the pieces is easy doesn’t mean the puzzles have to be. With hundreds of different puzzles to choose from and four different modes including puzzle mode, count mode, time mode, and versus mode, players will have countless hours of fun solving puzzles of varying difficulty.

  • Over 500 different puzzles to choose from
  • Four different modes including puzzle mode, count mode, time mode and versus mode
  • Touch screen control makes moving and rotating puzzle pieces a breeze
  • Keep track of your victories and solved puzzles in the trophy room
  • Challenge a friend wirelessly with just one NEVES card game

 


 

Career Games

So you think you want to start your kids early along the paths of dream jobs?  The following games will do the job, but I would recommend them only to children above the age of 12 as they deal with adult-oriented subjects such as death and murder.

Trauma Center - Under The Knife

Trauma Center: Under the Knife lets you play doctor like never before — on your Nintendo DS! As Dr. Derek Stiles, players will experience all the highs and lows of medical drama as they save patients and learn cutting-edge medical techniques. The stylus becomes more than just a piece of plastic; it serves as a scalpel, an ultrasound, antibiotic gel, and much more!

You’ve never experienced fast action like it takes to survive in the O.R.! The patient’s condition can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye, and only one person stands between them and a body bag — you! 

Gamers will feel like expert surgeons as they treat injuries and uncover ways to battle with a dangerous new disease. The controls are easy to understand, but saving lives is difficult to master. The challenging gameplay will keep doctors coming back to see the next dramatic event in Trauma Center’s gripping storyline.

 


 

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