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Age range: The device is built for ages 8 and older. It might temporarily engage that age (with a parent’s help), but older players will see its potential, as long as they turn up the contrast, sit in a well-lit room and break out the bifocals.

Final advice: I’ve already beaten this point to death. Nintendo and its magical DS deliver the interactive goods when it comes to brain training (witnessed by Brain Age). Mr. Small and Radica will need to continue to refine Brain Games in order to challenge that virtual entertainment innovator at any level.

Game Bytes

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia items for the entire family:

Secret Agent Clank (for PlayStation Portable, Sony, $39.99) - When legendary lombax Ratchet finds himself wrongly accused of a crime and sent to the big house, only his trusted robotic companion can help free him and save the day.

Normally tagging along as Ratchet’s backpack, Clank now takes center stage as a suave, tuxedo-wearing hero in this fun platforming challenge, which has enough action and chuckles to keep the above-average gamer amused.

Delivered with Austin Powers-style charm, the game has the player mostly control Clank. He is as adept at wooing the ladies with his footwork as taking out mechanical guards using spy-themed accessories, such as cuff-link bombs and a hypno watch.

Two-dozen missions are tied to melee combat, avoiding light beams, stealthy attacks, racing, puzzling corridors, laser obstacle courses and enjoying the occasional deadly game of poker. A nice touch is the rhythm-based levels that include a hysterical dance, as well as a sneaky run through a gantlet of danger executed by matching buttons to a steady stream of on-screen cues a la Guitar Hero.

Players also take control of Ratchet as he battles prison inmates, Clank’s mini-army of Gadgetbots and blowhard Captain Qwark for more third-person combat.

The game really tries hard to please with its variety of activities (with every nuance from weapons upgrade management to snowboarding) and is a welcome addition to the Ratchet and Clank family.

Space Invaders Extreme (for Nintendo DS, Square Enix, $19.99) - One of the granddaddies of the video-game industry celebrates its 30th anniversary with a spiffy new look, but the same addictive style of action.

Everyone already knows the point-accumulating drill of Space Invaders. Shoot, slide back and forth, duck missiles and hold off an unending assault of descending alien vessels during each round.

The refresh includes dizzying animated backgrounds, a techno beat matched to weapons fire (increasingly complex during the action), boss battles, score multipliers and minilevels tossed in during the main action.

Remember that large vessel occasionally floating at the top of the screen? Players now can determine when it appears by shooting the right combination of enemies.

For the budget-minded, not only is the price irresistible, but a pair of players also can challenge each other by sharing a cartridge via the DS’ Download Play Mode.

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