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DS  header logo

Sight Training (aka Flash Focus)

For: DS

Looking slightly serious

Product: Sight Training: Enjoy Exercising and Relaxing Your Eyes | Developer: Namco Bandai Networks Europe | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: DS | Genre: Brain training | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Sight Training: Enjoy Exercising and Relaxing Your Eyes DS, thumbnail 1
Right now, Sherylle Calder is the most important woman in sport you've never heard of. By the command of The Queen, Lord Coe, Sir Clive Woodward, Amy Winehouse and that bloke from The Mighty Boosh, Calder is set to be the big star of London 2012. Calder isn't an athlete by the way, she's a vision coach – vision consultant to Britain's track and field stars, no less.

To that extent then, Dr Ishigaki's Sight Training is the bargain of the decade. Whereas you would have to be Abramovich-rich to get Calder to personally improve your mince pies, this game will do it for 20 quid.

How does it work? Very much like Dr Kawashima's Brain Training, it relies on a series of daily exercises that people in DSland might normally refer to as 'sub-games'.

For instance, a six-figure number might momentarily flash up on the screen and you'll have to say what it was. Or, a snake of fast changing letters might scroll across the display and you'll need to have counted the times the letter 'R' appears. Or, you might be asked to focus on an upside down 'C' which flashes from the centre of the screen into a cluster of symbols at the edge.

To make things more fun (and we use the term loosely), there are also a range of sporting sub-games. So in volleyball, you have to spike a slowly dropping ball with your stylus at exactly the right moment to avoid defender's blocks. In boxing, you must hit and dodge the rapidly moving training mitts of your sparing partner. You get the idea. And assuming you do, you can apply it to the baseball, table tennis, basketball and football variants also offered.

So far, so not terribly entertaining. And that's the thing: Sight Training isn't that entertaining, because it's a vision training programme. Unlike the Brain Age checks in Dr Kawashima's Brain Training, the Eye Age checks in Sight Training aren't just a matter of bragging rights.

See, your results inform an analysis of your visual strengths and weaknesses, and the game adapts accordingly. Struggle with peripheral vision and you'll get to do loads of football. Poor Dynamic Visual Acuity? Dr Ishigaki will prescribe extra Box Tap. And so on.

The thing is, if Sight Training is like an unusually interesting visit to the opticians, its success stands or falls on whether it works. We're undecided on this. As something of an ophthalmic expert, this reviewer can vouch for the exercises. Aside from a couple of the ropier sports games, you're getting computer activities which, if they were bought as a bespoke Home Training System for your family PC, would cost considerably more.

But where the DS is obviously constrained is screen size. There's nothing wrong with the peripheral vision training here that a screen five times as big wouldn't fix. Owning the game will doubtless make you more likely to train your eyes – something everyone should do – but a few bits of string and some beads would do equally well in terms of long-term vision improvement.

The sports games give it all away, really. Sight Training is allowing you to live out your Olympian dreams. Will vision training get you gold in 2012? Will it enable you to beat your mate Urchin at darts? Will it help you walk back from the pub on New Year's Eve? Only to the same extent that taking vitamins makes you less likely to get sick.

Actually, there is a fascinating correlation between delinquency and poor eyesight. The logic goes like this: The weaker your eyes, the less you can concentrate and the more likely you are to get involved with funny business. It would have been nice to write that Sight Training on the DS is the solution to all of the Daily Mail's problems, but we can't. We're talking a tiny percentage improvement.

But moving swiftly on from the sociological part of the review, compare Dr Ishigaki's practice with Dr Kawashima's and the difference is striking. Even though you're only doing anagrams, times tables, or playing scissors-paper-stone, Brain Training is fun. It's addictive, competitive and does actually make you feel a bit sharper. Despite the two-player ad-hoc mode, Sight Training is a comparatively dour experience.

So, don't let the Brain Training-alike packaging fool you. Sight Training is interesting – indeed, highly impressive in many ways – but your mates won't be queuing up for a go. Only eagle eyes need apply.
Sight Training (aka Flash Focus)
Reviewer photo
Scott Anthony | 17 December 2007
A brave effort to bring vision training to the masses, Sight Training won't appeal to most and is undone by the blind spot of dullness
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