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Lumosity

Score: 85%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Lumos Labs
Developer: Lumos Labs
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Edutainment

Graphics & Sound:

Lumosity is yet another brain-train game, so the graphics are fairly minimalist in nature. You have a nice, clean interface that shows your current Lumosity score, along with a list of the upcoming brain-train exercises. There's also a picture of a brain, divided into 4 categories: Attention, Memory, Cognitive Control and Processing Speed. These will be the areas you are training in. The section of the brain that is the current focus of the exercises will be highlighted in red. You can see the upcoming exercises and also what they focus on, plus at the bottom is a timeline showing where you are in your brain-train schedule and how many exercises you have left to complete the entire program.

Sound effects are very minimal and I find the game works just as well with them muted. In fact, they can be a bit distracting to your focus. When I was playing Lumosity and had the sound effects turned on, Geck0 asked me what on earth I was doing, since I normally keep my PC muted unless I am playing a game. I think the sounds were a distraction to him when he was writing an article.


Gameplay:

In Lumosity, your goal is to improve certain aspects of your cognitive ability, or "train your brain". The exercises vary between memory, processing speed, attentiveness and cognitive control and are designed to help you improve your skills and better your memory and cognitive capabilities by continued use of the program. There are 30 "sessions" all together and a session may consist of 4 to 5 exercises of different types. If you do poorly on a particular exercise, you always have the option to play it again for improvement, or you can progress on to the next round. Depending on how well you perform, you are awarded Lumosity points, which indicate your skill and improvement. The game will encourage you if you show exceptional improvement.

Lumosity's game types vary and focus on certain aspects of brain-training. Color Match works your cognitive control and presents you with two word blocks, each containing a name of a color. The one on the left tells you the color you are looking for on the right, and the one on the right may or may not be correct. Using the arrow keys, you select Yes or No. In other words, if you have the word "black" on the left (regardless of what color that word may be) and the word "red" on the right, but the letters are black, that's a Yes. If the letters are red, that's a No. I didn't fully read the instructions my first time through on this exercise and did royally bad on it. Read the instructions.

Birdwatching tests your attentiveness and is probably my favorite exercise. In it, there's a scenic background photo with a camera reticule in the center. You are to "shoot" the birds when you see them, trying to get them centered in the shot. The closer they are to center, the more points you are awarded. The bird can appear anywhere on the screen, mind you, and while this flashes, a letter also flashes in the reticule. Your job is to notice which letter flashed, then move the reticule to where you think the bird appeared and take a picture. Then you are given a list of 5 letters to select the letter you saw. If you are successful, you will spell out bird types and unlock these birds. As the exercises get progressively more difficult, more distractions are added to the mix, so it makes it harder to see the bird.

Memory Match gives you a series of 3 objects, sliding across your screen. You must decide whether the first and third match, but the trick is the first and second quickly disappear, so you must use your memory to complete the tasks. Speed Match is similar, but much more fun. Here, you are presented with an object to remember. Then successive objects appear (sometimes shapes, sometimes Chinese letters, etc.) and you must select whether the new one matches the one last shown. These rounds go by very quickly and are great fun.

Monster Garden is another memory game where you have a grid garden and behind each dirt square could hide a monster or a heart, which represents health. Your job is to maneuver your farmer around the monsters to the flower bloom by clicking the squares you want him to travel to, one at a time. Click a square with a monster on it and you lose a heart, of which you begin with three. There are 10 puzzles per exercise to complete. These are pretty fun, but can get quite hairy as you progress.

Raindrops tests your ability to quickly solve various problems. On your screen, raindrops will fall towards the bottom. Each raindrop contains an equation and you must solve it before it hits the bottom by typing the correct number on the keypad. As they progress, the equations go from simple addition and subtraction to multiplication and division, and while it sounds simple, when you have multiple drops falling down rapidly and your mind must jump from a weird subtraction equation to multiplication, it can get rough.

Lost in Migration was perhaps my least favorite exercise of all, not because it was difficult or odd, but because the backgrounds made me lose points. How, you may ask? They had photo-type backgrounds to make things look a little prettier and the goal is to quickly look at the flock of birds, locate the center bird and, using the arrow keys, select that bird's orientation. However, when the flock of birds would appear towards the bottom of the screen, which was darker than the rest, I wouldn't notice them and it would cost me time. Very aggravating.


Difficulty:

Each exercise in Lumosity has its own inherent difficulty behind it, and depending on your own skill level, some may be harder than others. Further, as you progress through the sessions, the difficulty ramps up at a very manageable pace, but you will definitely notice the change. The sessions are divided into the following sections: Primer, which warms you up and familiarizes you with the different types of exercises; Attention; Memory; and Processing Speed, which focus on each of those particular traits, and finally Homestretch, which wraps up the deal. Certain exercises, like Monster Garden, give you the option of initially playing on Easy or Normal, but as you progress, you open up the option to play on Hard.

Game Mechanics:

Lumosity is fairly simple to control in concept, however sometimes things can get tricky. For instance, it's all about using your mouse, the left and right arrow keys, and the number pad. For the Speed exercises, you'll be selecting between the left or right arrow keys to select Yes or No in response to the choices. For the Raindrops equations, you'll obviously use your number pad, as this is the fastest way to get your answers recorded. There's also a number pad shown on the screen that you can mouse click to enter your answers, but it's slower. Again, as I mentioned earlier, the background of Lost in Migration made it difficult to see the birds at the bottom of the screen and would cost me precious time.

What I did enjoy was watching my Lumosity score increase over time and seeing my improvement as I worked through the sessions. While Lumosity is not the prettiest game around, it serves it's purpose and provides interesting facts and tips on the interface to help players in their daily lives, all the while improving their cognitive skills. If you are interested in trying a brain-train game, but you haven't jumped on the DS bandwagon, which seems to be the platform of choice for these types of games, mosey on over to the Lumosity website and give it a try. You just might find yourself getting smarter by the day.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:



Internet connection required (webpage based program)
 

Test System:



P4 1.8 GHz, 480 MB Ram, Integrated Sound and Video

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated