Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Art Style: Aquite (DSiWare) Review

Review for Art Style: Aquite on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Skip Ltd. was previously known to Nintendo gamers as being the brains behind the GiFTPiA, but has now become somewhat of a connoisseur of small puzzle offerings that are small enough to swallow with ease, yet turn out to be thoroughly satisfying upon total consumption. With Art Style: Code already proving to be a massive launch-day success on the DSiWare download service, how does this fellow brain-teaser that falls under the same mantel fare in comparison?

The Art Style series is an adaptation and continuation of the bit Generations titles that appeared on the Game Boy Advance in Japan only. Whilst the WiiWare download service has received two remakes from that series, plus a new entry, the DSiWare saw a brand new game right from the off in the form of Code (or Decode, as it is known in the US), which was a huge critical success, taxing gamers' minds in the best possible way by using mathematics in a very intriguing way. For this next Art Style offering, though, Skip Ltd. (Chibi-robo, GiFTPiA, Captain Rainbow) has gone for something that at first glance resembles Tetris, with a vertical field of play and numerous blocks all over the place that need to be manipulated in order to make them disappear.

The primary difference to Tetris, however, is that blocks are not continuously falling from above here. Instead, you watch as a diver on the top-right of the upper screen starts to make his way down, deeper into the ocean that is Aquite's setting, thus reducing the amount of oxygen he has and causing a dark mist to set in, slowly filling and obscuring the puzzle area from the top. What the player must do is quickly match up three or more of the same colour either horizontally or vertically by rotating multi-coloured groups of blocks outside of the main puzzle arena until they are then ready to be pushed sideways into the main playing field. Therefore, if you see a two pale blue blocks in a vertical line and your group outside the playing field also contains a pale blue block, simply rotate it around, position your group one place lower than the two pale blues lined up, then push into the arena to form a chain. The catch here, though, is by pushing into the block-filled pipe, an equal amount of blocks will be displaced on the opposite side. These will then need to be rotated as required and moved up or down outside the pipe until the player finds the right place to shove them back in...at which point more blocks pop out the other side...and so it continues!

Screenshot for Art Style: Aquite on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Whilst that may sound anything but simple, as soon as you jump into the action it all becomes clear and may actually seem too easy at first. However, once the addictive nature of Aquite kicks in, you soon realise how deep the experience really is, and as the difficulty picks up, with the screen becoming increasingly darker and trying to find a match starting to become even trickier, you may find that hours of your life just disappear in an instant. To begin with there are only a few colours in the pipe, making matches far more a frequent occurrence - but that does not last for long. Once it jumps from around four different colours to about eight, complete with blocks that cannot be removed at all, then chaos definitely ensues. There is a small reprieve, though, in the form of oxygen bubbles. Every now-and-then a special air block appears somewhere in the midst of the mayhem and if you can manage to juggle all the blocks around sufficiently, it is possible to eventually align three of these, thus aiding your diver's breathing and removing the black mist for a short while. These oxygen cubes will be a major lifeline later on, especially when starting the game with the harder of the three cursors (normally a player chooses to play with a two-block cursor, but suckers for punishment can try with a four-block cursor!) and working through the Endless Dive endurance mode or Internal Dive mode, where the difficulty setting can be upped right from the get go.

On top of this, as has become commonplace with the other Art Style games, Skip has concocted a plain but aesthetically pleasing product that comes with a (minimalist) watery soundtrack that fits in perfectly with the general atmosphere and certainly does not detract from the puzzling experience on the whole. Whilst puzzle games do not live or die on production values alone, Skip has ensured that even if this range of downloadable puzzle fun may come at a budget price, its composers and graphical artists do not skimp on the intricate details that quality games should have. Overall, Skip has a very well-rounded product that costs a mere 500 Nintendo Points, which proves to be massively addictive and offers far greater value for money than many retail products. Multiplayer modes, online features and touch-screen controls may well have all been welcomed, but for this price players are already getting a wonderful puzzle treat...

Screenshot for Art Style: Aquite on DSiWare - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Using the stylus to quickly juggle the numerous blocks around to match three-of-a-kind works perfectly and proves to be highly addictive the deeper into the game players get.

Graphics

Simple-but-effective visuals that are easy on the eye and work well enough to prevent any elements of frustration from kicking in.

Sound

Minimalist watery-based tunes that do not detract from the actual gameplay and actually add to the general atmosphere nicely are the order of the day here.

Value

That 'just one more go' ethos certainly comes into play with Aquite so much that the mere 500 Points price-tag will keep you occupied longer than many retail releases.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Skip continues to ride along without a care in the world, churning out hit after hit and showing no signs of running out of ideas for new, amazingly addictive puzzle offerings. Art Stlye: Aquite is definitely another great success from the small Japanese development outfit and massively good value for money on the whole. Puzzle fans really should not miss out.

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21.09.2009

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Developer

Skip

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

This is still one of my favourite DSiWare games and one of the best Art Style games around. It was oh-so-tempting to give it a 9...Definitely an 8.5 if we did half integers Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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