The Art Style series has never ceased to impress us; when the first three titles hit the WiiWare service late last year, they blew us away with their overall quality. Featuring elegant design, polished graphics, and pick-up-and-play controls, the Art Style series was a perfect-fit for WiiWare. Now that the DSi has launched, it is time to see if the game has managed the transition to Nintendo's hot new handheld – time to see if it lives up to the standards set by the WiiWare versions.
Art Style: AQUITE is your typical “line up three colors” puzzle game, but with a bit of an unusual twist: you have to push shapes horizontally into a column of blocks, displacing that row's blocks. Though the concept sounds a little basic, once you start playing, you’ll quickly discover that it’s very engaging, intuitive, and above all, entertaining. What gamers have come to love in past Art Style games can be found here; this version stays true to the Art Style legacy.
One of the best things about Art Style: AQUITE is that it blends a very traditional puzzle design with this refreshingly new concept: players control two – or up to four on the hardest difficulty – blocks; these blocks must be slid from side to side of the screen, where a tower of blocks is present in the middle; manoeuvring the blocks through the tower will displace others and leave the original ones behind; while doing this, the player has to try and match up three blocks in a row, which will remove them, and help the player progress.
When pushing blocks into the tower, more will come out on the opposite side, and this creates an extra layer of strategy to the game. As well as this, players have the ability to rotate the set of blocks that they’re controlling – adding yet more elements to that feeling of strategic depth. The satisfaction of matching up the colors, and coming one step closer to finishing the puzzle, is simply immense; after just a few minutes of play, you’ll easily become addicted to this and will likely have some major conflicts when it comes to putting your Nintendo DSi down.
In terms of controls, there is no touchscreen interaction; everything is down to using the buttons. To slide blocks up and down the massive stack in the middle you use the d-pad and to send them into the stack, you press A. This setup works very well for the most, although the absence of touch controls is disappointing.
From a graphical standpoint, Art Style: AQUITE isn’t that hot: the graphics are simple, yet well-crafted; and the little animation included in the game is slick, fluent, and easy on the eyes. In comparison to the visuals, the sound is where the presentation really stacks up well: starting off a little basic at first, the music slowly adopts more of a captivating beat the further you progress, to a point where it becomes a truly compelling tune. The addictiveness and overall quality of this soundtrack is absolutely through-the-roof when you compare it to the mere 500 points the game costs – you're getting a real bargain here.
Out of all the titles available at launch, Art Style: AQUITE is undoubtedly one of the best. Featuring elegant design, polished graphics, and pick-up-and-play addictiveness; the Art Style series is a perfect-fit for DSiWare. The game's rather traditional concept, mixed in with a unique twist, creates one of the most fresh and enjoyable puzzles on any handheld. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed with Art Style: AQUITE.