Art Style: Code
To play Art Style: Code you hold the DSi like a book. The two screens show five rows of numbers and the rows fill up with numbers from left to right. The stylus is used to swap any two numbers horizontally or vertically.
The twist is the calculator-style display means that if they're swapped, they're also flipped. The number 8 might stay the same but 5 can become 2, 7 and 4 become non-numbers and so on. The idea is to create lines that add up to ten.
At first levels only feature the numbers 1 and 2 (and therefore 5), so you start out simply and are able to handle the mind-hammering complexity of later levels with relative ease. At this stage you also encounter red numbers, which, if included in a line, take out all red numbers of the same value on the entire grid.
All this sounds complex, and it is - not least because your surprising inability to add up to ten can leave you red-faced. Nevertheless it's one of those mathematical games, like Brain Training, or Sudoku, that becomes engaging because it's stimulating.
The game is beautifully minimal and has the kind of difficulty curve that makes the best of such games so compelling. The fact it's number-based will put off many people but it shouldn't, as this is a brilliantly crafted game. It's all underlined by the barely-noticeable audio; listen closely and you'll realise that the rhythm is working without, becoming more threatening as the screen fills up.
Of all the DSiWare titles currently available, Code is definitely a highlight.
In this game you use the d-pad to steer a paper plane past a series of obstacles. The more vertical the direction, the faster the plane falls. You can attempt an endless fall to see how far you get, try to beat your times over a certain distance or race against another plane.
There's a challenge here - getting that plane through the course in one piece is no mean feat - but the overall experience is drab and uninspired. It's reminiscent of a browser game you'd click away from ten seconds after loading, or the kind of half-arsed demo that appeared on magazine coverdiscs in the early nineties. The visuals are dull and the execution of the idea misses out on what makes paper planes such wonderful, irreverent distractions. Cough up for this and you will be disappointed.