Review: Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day

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Platform: DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Namco Bandai/Nintendo
Release Date: 10/15/07
Genre: Training/Self-Improvement
Players: 1

Building upon the success of the Brain Age series comes Flash Focus: Vision Training in Minutes a Day, the latest entry in Nintendo’s growing lineup of Touch Generations casual DS games. As popular as the Brain Age titles have been, I’ve actually found Flash Focus to be far more compelling in that it feels more like an actual videogame, not simply a bunch of math and word problems. Because of that, I’m not quite sure the game really does a whole lot to improve your eyesight like it’s supposed to, but either way it’s an enjoyable collection of mini-games.

Right off the bat, it’s clear that Nintendo and Namco Bandai modeled this game after Brain Age. From the profile setup to the menu presentation to the calendar tracking system, Flash Focus looks practically identical. What’s different here is that you’re training to build up your vision rather than brain power. After completing a series of tests to determine your starting eye age, the game provides you with daily workout programs designed to hone various areas of focus power — Dynamic Visual Acuity, Momentary Vision, Eye Movement, Peripheral Vision and Hand-eye Coordination – and charts your daily progress with calendar stamps and score graphs, rewarding you with additional games, stamp designs, modes and other content after each workout.

Exercises in Flash Focus come in two categories: Core Training and Sports Training. Within the core category, challenges include quickly tapping boxes as they rapidly pop-up and disappear if you don’t get to them in time, watching a string of numbers blink on the screen for a split-second and inputting the correct sequence, counting the number of times a certain letter appears in a flashing sequence of random letters, and the classic “track the box with the ball in it” game, among a group of six other eyesight tasks.

The sports training is by far the best, though, with its seven events based on real-life sports, including baseball, basketball, boxing, table tennis, soccer, volleyball and football. Boxing has probably been my favorite thus far, with a virtual sparring partner that sticks up his mitts in various patterns and challenges you to tap the punch combos within the allotted time and slide the stylus in specified directions to dodge his attacks. Baseball is another highlight, challenging you to tap the screen to hit pitches as they cross through a yellow box on the screen. Based on your timing and accuracy, you’ll strike out or hit a single, double, triple or homerun, and your test score will reflect the performance accordingly. The other five sports games are every bit as entertaining too, and eventually you unlock higher difficulty levels and a Record Challenge mode that lets you play the sports for high score bragging rights away from the training program. Sadly, though, there is no form of multiplayer, which is a disappointing omission.

At only 20 bucks, Flash Focus is a game I strongly recommend taking a close look at. If you’ve enjoyed the Brain Age games, chances are you’ll like this just as much, if not more, while the more game-like feel of the training activities makes Flash Focus attractive to an even broader audience. Your vision may not improve while playing, but hey, at least you’ll be having fun!

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!