Several studies more than the last five years have extolled the virtues of video games to ward off the effects of aging on the brain and cognition. With a renewed interest in everyday puns like wordle, thinking games are in the foreground. What potential does interactive media have when it comes to keeping cognitive abilities as sharp as possible? Let’s take a look at seven games on Nintendo Switch, mobile and PC platforms that will put you through enough mental gymnastics to make you feel alert and sharp at any age.
7. Big Brain Academy: Brain vs. Brain
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $29.99
Nintendo has revolutionized brain-training games with the pursuit of scientifically verified Brain Age on Nintendo DS, and the console maker is bringing that magic back to Switch with big brain academy. The 2020 title features a series of mini-games focused on memorizing sets of numbers, adjusting your vision, and using logic to solve various puzzles. While it’s perhaps best designed for couch co-op with up to four players, it’s also possible to download data from people on your friends list to engage in asynchronous online entertainment. Whether you’re young or young at heart, this budget-friendly product offers a wealth of great workouts.
6. Sudoku.com – Classic Sudoku
A 2014 study by Geriatric psychiatry named Sudoku as a solid source for brain training, and there are countless Sudoku clones on mobile platforms. This one from Easybrain has been hailed by fans as one of the best releases to download. The game receives frequent updates and has a wide variety of game types, including daily puzzles, seasonal events, and more. The app features 10,000 9×9 puzzles across six bespoke difficulty levels. Auto-checking highlights your mistakes, while in-game note taking helps players better plan their next move. This is the best free iteration of a beloved brain game for your phone.
Launched in 2007, Brightness is considered a pioneer in virtual brain training. The app is a collaboration between scientists and game designers trying to create the most effective cognitive tests on digital platforms. After starting your journey with a personalized test, you’ll be able to tap into a huge pool of over 40 exercises tailored to speed, memory, attention, flexibility, and more.
Free users get access to three games suitable for their daily brain training, but there are also premium subscription offers for those who prefer unlimited access and a highly personalized experience. All of the games we’ve mentioned so far feature some form of stat tracking, but BrightnessPerhaps the most accurate of all is data collection.
4. Monument Valley
Many of the games we’ve highlighted so far focus on 2D brain exercises, but a 2020 study by Behavioral brain research suggests that 3D puzzles can stimulate more areas of the brain than their flatter counterparts. In this regard, there is perhaps no better mobile game to play than Monument Valley. Yes, it comes at a small fee in a market with plenty of free games, but the experience you get is worth the small barrier to entry. For this payment, you won’t see any annoying ads or popups, allowing you to focus only on the puzzles in front of you.
Players take control of Princess Ida and must guide her through 10 challenging diorama-like levels. The central mechanic involves tapping to make Ida move while touching certain pillars to rotate the map to create bridges and paths to cross. Train your brain while enjoying dazzling and serene visuals. When you are done with these levels, you can also purchase optional expansions and sequels.
3. Mathematics | Riddles and puzzles
Compared to the other games featured on this list, Mathematics | Riddles and puzzles from Black Games is perhaps the freest of them all. It’s free to download and it’s not supported by ads or in-app purchases. Simply put, it is a totally complementary brain training app offering a large collection of puzzles that match the aforementioned research studies focusing on the benefits of puzzles and critical thinking.
That said, this game features a very specific type of puzzle, emphasizing exercises related to basic algebra and geometry. If you’ve ever taken an IQ test, most of the exercises in this game will look familiar. Its dry interface and design probably won’t appeal to kids very much, but Mathematics | Riddles and puzzles is still an awesome app for number geeks.
2. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy
The bulk of this list includes games focused on raw puzzle solving and data collection, but what about those who prefer something more story-driven with game-solving elements of problems verified as viable for cognitive enhancement by Behavioral and brain functions in 2020? For more experienced players, the Ace Attorney series is a great place to start. It features an ongoing narrative with a slew of interesting cases and a dash of supernatural inspiration for good measure. In truth Law and order mode, you’ll be tasked with unpacking murders in Hollywood, big business, and more.
Early Ace Attorney games focus on finding connections between larger concepts. Each case begins with an evidence-gathering phase, which is essentially a hidden-picture puzzle. The collected evidence is then taken to the courtroom, where Phoenix uses it as evidence to spot the contradictions the characters make on the stand. It’s a series full of charm, rivalries and sometimes bizarre logical gymnastics. If you want to see what the trilogy looks like before you buy, the first two cases are available as a free download exclusively on iOS.
1. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59
The previously cited study by Behavioral brain research extolled the virtues of Super Mario games and other 3D platformers as an effective means of brain training. In this regard, there is perhaps no more accessible and charming experience than Super Mario 3D World.
It’s a classic Mario experience, where players jump towards the goal through a series of predefined levels. What makes this entry so particularly interesting, however, is its unique diorama-level design and the wide variety of ways the concept is repurposed in charming ways. From verdant fields to underground tunnels and colorful casinos, you’ll see it all in this memorable quest to save Princess Peach. The game also features local and online multiplayer for up to four players, so families can pop in and out of the platforming fun as they please. It’s the most expensive and comprehensive game on our list, but the brain training benefits might be worth it.