Puzzlers are a dime a dozen on DSiWare. They range from connect three games like A Little Bit Of... Puzzle League to simple bubble-popping in Pop Plus: Solo. Now we have Alien Puzzle Adventure, Mastertronic's second title for the service. Does it do enough to stand out from the crowd? Not really, but it's a decent attempt.
There are two game types available, the main one being Adventure Mode. Here, you attempt to save the world from an invasion of chemical creatures known as Quarks using a generator gun that fires Psuedo-Quarks. Creating similarly coloured chains two or more strong, your mission is to kill the Quarks and travel onward to different locations, attempting to stop the Quark invasion of the world.
There are 35 stages in total, which become available to play separately in the Choose Level section of the menu after you've beaten them. You're also ranked for your performance at the end of each level based on the normal gold, silver and bronze system, which adds some replay value to the game. Additionally, there's a Survival mode available where you simply try to last for as long as possible by defeating the Quarks; it's a nice addition, but it can get quite boring after playing for more than a few minutes.
The gameplay is rather simple. In each stage, your character rotates around a Quark portal using the touch screen or d-pad and you simply fire a Psuedo-Quark into a group of Quarks of the same colour to destroy them. However, the Quarks will spawn rather quickly, so you can't take too long – once they reach the edge of the portal, they will begin to create colour attack lines that launch into the air and damage your HP in an attempt to bring you down.
As you defeat the Quarks, they will often leave behind power-ups for you to utilise such as a shield to protect you from their colour attack lines, an atom bomb that destroys all Quarks in the level, a first aid kit to restore your health and more. It's a rather fun game for a short while thanks to its utilising a different style of gameplay from the normal connect-three puzzler, but it's simply too basic to be very engaging and will struggle to hold your attention for long periods of time.
There are four types of stages, usually utilising a time limit. Assault sees you simply eliminate a set number of Quarks; Sniper has you eliminate a number of Quarks of a certain colour; Showdown tasks you with eliminating a Quark Guardian to stop the species from growing; and, lastly, there's Mop Up, where once you've beaten the Quark leader you have to defeat all the Quarks surrounding the Quark Portal. All of these help add some variety to the game, but, outside of the Showdown levels, they don't really have enough differences between them to keep things interesting.
Graphically, the game isn't particularly good. It utilises a colourful, cartoony design and areas such as the menus aren't too bad to look at, but the 2D sprites used for the in-game graphics are average at best for DSiWare and often look a bit dull.
Overall, Alien Puzzle Adventure is a good attempt at a different style of match three puzzler, and although it's too basic to be very engaging and doesn't stand out from the crowd particularly well, it's still fun in short bursts.