Is there a doctor in the house? Not in North America, unfortunately. Hopefully that changes soon, but I have my doubts. As always, thanks for reading.
There was a time when the Brain Age series was an incredible seller for Nintendo. It became one of those expanded audience titles that ended up reaching tens of millions of consumers, and sold countless units across multiple installments. Everyone was playing it, celebrities were endorsing it, and there were a variety of news programs covering the game. It was a real part of culture back in the DS days, and it left an indelible mark.
Unfortunately for Nintendo, the Brain Age series doesn't seem to have the staying power that their other franchises do. After the original releases on 2005 and an 'Express' version in 2012, Nintendo came out with Brain Age: Concentration Training in 2012/2013. This installment, while offering new content on top of the traditional training methods, didn't really click with consumers. The game failed to find an audience anywhere near as big as the original releases, showing that most who got in on the craze the first time around had since moved on.
That same trend seems to be continuing to an even greater extent with Brain Age on the Switch. Known in Europe as "Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training for Nintendo Switch," the game's launch seemed to be met with a thud in both Japan and Europe. Those who were willing to dip back into the franchise with the 3DS release seemed to have gone into hiding for the Switch version. The game hasn't really made any notable progress on sales charts, including both digital and retail.
You have to wonder if that sales pattern has stalled the release of Brain Age Switch in North America, if not killing it entirely. The thing is, we never even heard word of the game seeing a release in North America. Nintendo has never mentioned that the game is coming our way. Not one segment in a Nintendo Direct, not a mention in an infographic, not a single nod in the weekly press releases. As far as Nintendo America is concerned, the game simply doesn't exist at this point.
Perhaps Nintendo wanted to see how the game performed in Europe and Japan before they made the final call on releasing it in North America. If that's the case, then I'd say there's very little chance for an official release here. That's quite disheartening, as there are indeed fans of the franchise who'd like to hop on the latest installment. ...and yes, it is possible to import the European version or click over to the Euro eShop and download the game, but those options aren't going to reach the expanded audience that's always been important to the series.
Another possible explanation is a release that's far, faaaaaaaaar off in the future. That's exactly what happened with Brain Age: Concentration Training in Europe. That game was announced for European release on March 8th, 2013, and then got delayed to April 12th, 2013. After that, Nintendo announced that the release date was being postponed again, and then it was radio silence for 5 years. Yes, 5 long years of absolutely no information on the game, only to have it surprise-release on July 28th, 2017. Nintendo has never given an explanation as to why they held off on the localization for so long, and I fear the same thing might happen with Brain Age on Switch.
Will Brain Age on Switch be a million-seller in the North America? I don't think there's any chance of that happening, as sad as that is to say. That said, with localization work done on the European version, you have to wonder why Nintendo America hasn't released the game yet. Even if there's little chance of big sales in North America, it would still be nice to see the game get an official release here. The situation becomes even more puzzling when you consider the low overhead for releasing the game through the Switch eShop. There's no packaging or retail promotion to worry about if that path is taken. Stick the game on the eShop, do some online advertising, and see what comes of it all.
The only thing we know for certain right now is the uncertainty of Brain Age Switch in North America. Nintendo hasn't made a peep about localization plans, and there have been no hints coming from those who scour the eShop's inner-workings. For now, we just sit and wait. Hopefully Nintendo gives an answer one way or the other soon. Knowing the definitive decision would allow potential importers to jump on their copies, instead of holding onto hope for an official North American release. There are fans who want to have another session with the good doctor, and they deserve a bit of recognition.