another short game. i’m a big fan of puzzle games, esp. tetris-like games, and even with my high standards i’ve been consistently impressed with nintendo’s art style series, a collection of often retro-inspired puzzle games that appeared on the DSi eshop and wiiware (and were preceded by the closely related bit generations series on GBA) with a small file size but intensely creative and addictive gameplay, and true to the series’ name, a stylish presentation. the next one i had lined up was art style: base 10, which is the third release on the DSi that i’ve played.
the gameplay of base 10 is easy to describe, but a bit hard to appreciate unless you’ve experienced it (i’m surprised nintendo didn’t put out a trailer for this game since it doesn’t look like much from static images, but check out this video for a sample of the gameplay). basically you’re presented with a set of numbers like on a calculator and you have to select groups connected horizontally or vertically that add up to 10. it starts off with just the numbers 1 and 2, but you can flip the 2 in any direction with an adjacent number to form a 5, although 1s aren’t horizontally flippable (if you look at a 1 on a calculator you’ll see that the 1 part would move to the left side of the LCD box, and the game regards this as being an invalid number). so already you have multiple ways of clearing pieces (e.g. 5 + 5, 5 + 2 + 2 + 1, 5 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1, etc.) and moves that will render numbers (in this case just 1s) invalid. the game has a nice progression, where every level in the standard mode includes the next number (so level 2 features numbers 1, 2, and 3). 3s are like 1s and are vertically but not horizontally flippable, but 4s can only ever be oriented one way. 5s are as versatile as 2s, as are 6s and 9s, whereas 8s and 0s are usable wherever you might move them to.
clearing the main (“target”) mode isn’t that hard once you’ve gotten used to the mechanics. every level is standalone and the game records your high scores for each, but what makes the game more worthwhile in this mode and the endless mode is trying to create combos (by linking sums of 10, domino style), and clearing an entire row at once, both of which presumably provide bonus points. i’m not that big on chasing high scores, and once you’ve mastered the mechanics it’s not very hard to get pretty high up in endless mode. the vs. mode would be more worthwhile, but i haven’t had a chance to try that out yet.
the real time sink to the game, though, is the puzzle mode. this is like other games’ puzzle modes where you have a limited number of moves to clear the board, and here the freedom of options in the main modes works against you since there are so many options of how to move the pieces around. because of this blind shuffling won’t get you very far and you’ll have to sit down and actually use logic to figure out the solution. because of the depth of these puzzles, this is actually the centerpiece of the game instead of the main mode, unlike most other games of this type. although i do like logic puzzles now and then they’re not my favorite type of game, so i didn’t put in too much time into them.
although i appreciate the elegance and ingenuity of the core gameplay, which seemingly effortlessly presents an interesting, unique, and addictive mechanic, the main mode is just a bit too easy once you’ve mastered the mechanics. it would have been nice to have had an option to select the speed in the endless mode, or have harder levels that consisted of harder combinations of numbers or placed more emphasis on combos (e.g. you have to make combos to eliminate numbers). the presentation is clean and works fine, but it’s a bit too minimalistic and could have been a little more engaging. overall a stylish and enjoyable puzzle game, but should be appreciated more by casual players or people who love logic puzzles.