The Art Style series from Nintendo and skip Ltd. is making waves in the puzzle game genre. After spending only a few minutes with these games, it was clear to me that their smooth, polished presentation, unique atmosphere and innovative gameplay set them apart from most other puzzle titles on the market.
I had the opportunity to try out four of the latest Art Style titles for the Nintendo DSi: PiCTOBiTS, BOXLIFE, BASE 10 and Zengage. Exclusively available for download on DSiWare for the price of 500 Nintendo Points each, these highly ingenious puzzle games promise to challenge any player regardless of their skill level. Read More...
This DSi game is a must have for old-school Nintendo fans. Each level of the game presents 8-bit themed graphics and music inspired by launch-era NES titles, such as Mario Bros., Ice Climber and Balloon Fight. This simple yet challenging puzzler is vaguely reminiscent of Tetris, the goal being to clear a certain number of squares from the screen to reveal an image taken from one of these early NES games.
Large blocks of varying shape and colour, called megabits, come down the bottom screen in waves. As they fall, players pick up single bits with the stylus and add them to the megabits, clearing them by making 4-bit lines or shapes of at least 2 x 2 bits. Uncleared pieces of megabits will break down into bits.
The bits you pick up are held into an 8-spot queue. When your screen becomes dangerously full, you have the option to hit the POW button which will clear two lines at the bottom of the screen. However, every time this feature is used one spot in the queue will be disabled.
As you advance in the game, permabits will be thrown into the mix. These pieces cannot be picked up in the queue and can therefore only be cleared as they enter the screen. For every megabit and permabit cleared, players earn one coin, which can be used to unlock additional music and dark version of stages. Dark versions offer a higher degree of difficulty with pieces coming down at a much faster pace.
This game is quite challenging requiring players to think and act fast. While I found PiCTOBiTS amusing in short bursts, I felt it was a bit stressful to play for longer periods of time.
This title is an unusual puzzle game which will test your logic and spatial recognition skills. Its cute pixel art graphics and 8-bit music are quite charming. The game offers two playing modes, both of which will have players building cubes out of various patterns.
The main mode, R&D, offers 14 levels to play. The goal of each is to use the given pattern and fold it all into cubes before the time expires, using only three functions: cut, fold and mend. The second, Factory, is a timed mode which becomes unlocked later on. In this variation of the game, players have an unlimited pattern to work from to build as many cubes as possible before the clock runs out. Bombs are also introduced, which will blow up to destroy part of the pattern, costing players a penalty. They can be removed by trapping them in a cube before they turn go off.
BOXLIFE is quite simple to play, yet truly engaging and original, making it definitely worth a look for any puzzle game enthusiast.
BASE 10 is like no other game I have ever encountered. Entirely number-based, this puzzle game is sure to challenge most players with its innovative game mechanic. Requiring both good mental math skills and pattern recognition abilities, BASE 10 can be a bit intimidating to play at first. But as they progress, players will learn to recognize number patterns helping them solve the game.
The title has four modes including a local wi-fi multiplayer option. The main mode, Zerosum, offers nine levels to play each using an additional number. For example, the first level uses 1s and 2s, the second 1s, 2s and 3s, and so on. Players must clear a fixed quantity of numbered-tiled by selecting connected digits adding up to 10.
The twist lies in sliding the numbered tiles, up/down and left/right, to arrange them. Flipped numbers will change, become disabled or remain the same. For example, a flipped 2 turns into a 5, a flipped 8 is the same all around and a flipped 3 is nothing, therefore becoming unusable. The closer you are to completing a level, the faster the numbers fill up the board. Red digits will also appear which cannot be moved or flipped. Once used, a red tile will clear all other tiles showing the same number.
The second mode, Puzzle, presents players with set tiles to clear, using as few moves as possible. Infinite mode is a marathon version of Zerosum, where players clear lines for high scores until the board gets filed up.
BASE 10 has a minimalistic style and cool ambient soundtrack making for a slick presentation. With its fast pace, this challenging and novel game is sure to test your speed and mental acuity.
Editorial Note: Left-handed players should be aware that skip Ltd. inexplicably omitted a "lefty flip" option from BASE 10, which may render it unplayable to some. - Brian
Zengage can be best described as hypnotic. I found myself getting completely absorbed and even mesmerized by the sounds and colours while playing. This simple puzzle game has players matching tiles and pegs of the same colour, with a mechanic comparable to the Rubik’s Cube.
Groups of nine puzzles are presented in different audiovisual environments, starting with Sky, River and Forest. In as little moves as possible, players will slide the tiles until they match the pegs on the board. However, as you advance in the game, some parts of the boards will be bolted down, limiting the ways in which you can move the tiles. Later levels will also introduce vector tiles which will allow you to move the pegs around the board.
Zengage is a simple and very enjoyable game. I even found it relaxing and didn’t mind having to retry puzzles several times. This title is an excellent way to practice your spatial recognition skills and logic without any pressure. The game even allows you to keep playing a level even after having failed it.
Nintendo and skip Ltd. hit the mark with these four Art Style games which are genuinely fun and very original in their presentation and design. Anyone with a DSi should certainly check them out, especially fans of the puzzle genre or those interested in testing their mental skills. While being similar in style and feel, these games each offer a unique gameplay experience, one of which will surely be right for you.