Break the brain, not the bank - Art Style: Code review

The art style games – available as downloads on both the WiiWare and DSiWare services – are, generally speaking, simple puzzle games with a minimalist but elegant presentation and are, almost without exception, incredibly addictive experiences. Art Style: Code continues this tradition in fine form.

Put simply, Code is a numbers game. The idea is to add up single-digit numbers to total 10 as more are added to the pile, Tetris-style. Allow the numbers to reach the end of the screen, and it's game over. The more numbers involved in the total sum of 10 points, the more points you get for it. For instance – 2+2+2+2+1+1 is worth more points than 5+5.

You can also flip numbers to create other numbers. 2 flipped becomes 5, but other numbers, once flipped, become useless – 7 for instance. Once the speed that numbers are added to the mix ramps up, this seemingly simple game starts to become very complex, and adding numbers that fast becomes challenging indeed.

The difficulty curve is compounded by the way the game increases the difficulty level. Speed is one way, but the game also starts throwing more numbers at you. At the start, it's just 1s and 2s – and adding to 10 with those two is easy. By level six you're dealing with 7s and 6s, and the matter starts to become far more difficult. About then, the game will make you wish you paid a little more attention in math at high school.

There are a number of gameplay modes, from an endless mode, to set challenges and a multiplayer mode (which doesn't require both players to own a copy of the game). On paper it might not seem much, but the challenge level, and desire to better scores will give this game plenty of replay.

Graphically and musically Code lives up to the Art Style legacy – minimalist, but gorgeous in execution. The numbers are bold, bright digital watch colours on a black background. The music consists of basic digital loops, but creates the mood of the game perfectly. Code is a tight package, and at no stage feels like an inexpensive download.

A few more gameplay modes and Code would be worth a full, off-the-shelf purchase. As it is it presents incredible value for 500 points, and represents the perfect reason to purchase a Nintendo DSi – this game is simply not available otherwise.

star rating