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Art Style: AQUIA Review

4
  • DSI

Art Style: AQUIA is a good, basic puzzle game with enough of a hook to keep you coming back for more.

Match up the blocks and hey, try not to drown, OK?
Match up the blocks and hey, try not to drown, OK?
Art Style: AQUIA is a pretty basic color-based puzzle game for the DSiWare downloadable service. It's your job to match up three or more blocks of the same color either horizontally or vertically. While this formula is as old as time itself, AQUIA does it in a way that few games have done before, and it does it with an interesting, underwater-themed look.

Rather than shuffling the blocks around like Bejeweled or dropping blocks like Tetris, AQUIA has you shoving blocks into the sides of the well. Doing so shoves out blocks on the other side, and these blocks become the pieces that you slide up and down the side of the puzzle and rotate, if necessary. When you insert those pieces, more blocks pop out on the other side, and so on and so forth. It's your aim to match up the colored blocks to fill a meter (represented by a diver that dives deeper as you match blocks) and finish the level. If you happen to have played Piyotama for the PlayStation Network (all two of you, go on, raise your hands), the gameplay will sound kind of familiar. The game comes in a timed mode that lets you know how long it took to clear the level, as well as a free dive mode that doesn't time you.

In both modes, though, you're fighting against a time limit, represented by the diver's oxygen supply, as well as the screen itself. The puzzle begins to vanish from the top down as your oxygen is depleted. Clearing blocks gives you a bit of oxygen, and connecting special blocks lets you refill the oxygen tanks. So there are ways to push back death's sweet embrace. You can also select the type of pieces you want to be working with. The easiest is a two-block vertical stack. There is also a horizontal two-block option and a four-block square. Since you're shoving more pieces into and out of the puzzle, the different block types do have a significant impact on the complexity and difficulty of the game. Higher levels also add additional block colors, giving you another thing to constantly consider. All told, it's got enough depth to keep you satisfied.

The visuals are fairly simple, though bubbles flow upward to let you know if you're chaining together strings of block matches, and you'll unlock some new aquarium backgrounds in the different levels. Each level has slightly different music and sound effects, not entirely unlike a Lumines game--but most of the music fits the same dreamy, underwater style.

At 500 points ($5), Art Style: AQUIA is a good deal, and one of the better DSiWare games currently available.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+