Art Style: AQUIA Review
Art Style: AQUIA box art
System: DSi (DSiWare) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Skip Ltd. 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Nintendo 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Apr. 5, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Puzzle Your Way to the
Depths of the Sea!

by Amanda L. Kondolojy

So far, the DSiWare service seems to be a little sparse. With only a handful of launch titles, DSi enthusiasts quick to try out the new download service (as well as spend the 1000 free points that came with the system) may feel that their options are a little limited. However, before you write off the DSiWare service completely, you may want to check out Art Style: AQUIA.

Art Style: AQUIA screenshot

If you are into puzzle games the likes of Hexic and Tetris, than this title may be the best option on the budding download service. That is, of course, if you don't mind some severe headaches.

The main puzzle mechanic in AQUIA is quite interesting and involves a very tall Jenga-like tower of blocks. This tower is three blocks wide, and your main goal is to form groups of three or more like-colors, either horizontally or vertically (or in the case of advanced players, both). You can do this by inserting a dual-colored block on the left or right of the column. However, the twist here is that when you insert a block on either side, the blocks on the other side are pushed out. Although this sounds simple enough, the mechanic can get increasingly complex, and you'll really have to focus in order to manage the ever-shifting block structure.

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But, the changing blocks are not your only worry. The blocks you are clearing by matching are somehow tied to a little diver avatar on the right side of the screen. As you clear blocks, the diver will make his way down to a star-shaped goal on the bottom of the screen. However, your little guy only has a limited supply of air. As his oxygen starts running low, the top of your screen will begin to darken. This darkness obscures your view of the colored blocks at the top, and slowly makes its way downward, until you can't see your bricks at all (and your diver subsequently expires). Although the darkness will start happening after a few minutes into each round, specialty "air blocks" can be discovered to give your little scuba guy some extra time.

Art Style: AQUIA screenshot

The timing mechanic is really where most of my frustration with this title comes from. Although the block-switching works well, it requires some intense concentration and problem-solving skills. The timed mechanic really hinders some of the more thoughtful aspects of the game. Instead of thinking out long-chained combos that could net me some serious points, I found myself just randomly inserting blocks when time started running out in the hopes that something miraculous would happen and my little diver wouldn't kick the big chum bucket.

There are two main modes in Art Style: AQUIA: Timed Dive mode and Free Dive mode. Timed Dive is a little bit more rigid, as you might imagine, and gives you a set goal in which you must see your diver safely to the bottom of the ocean. The Free Dive mode is a little bit less restrictive, although the darkness will set in just as fast as in mode. The difference here is that if you can find enough air blocks, you can keep going marathon-style and rack up some serious points.

Art Style: AQUIA screenshot

In addition to these two modes, there is also an Aquarium collection area where you can look at different sea life animation that you've unlocked after clearing each level. This trophy system may be a little shallow, but it does challenge you to complete some of the more complex levels in the hopes of accumulating hardware.

Screenshots / Images
Art Style: AQUIA screenshot - click to enlarge Art Style: AQUIA screenshot - click to enlarge Art Style: AQUIA screenshot - click to enlarge Art Style: AQUIA screenshot - click to enlarge

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