If you've seen the trailer for the new Tom Hanks movie and wondered why he's sporting a dodgy mullet, you've obviously been living in a dustbin for the past two years. Otherwise you'd know he's playing Robert Langdon, the clean living scholarly star of the The Da Vinci Code.
As you'd expect with such a huge film release these days, a simultaneous game launch across consoles and even mobile phones is part of the deal, and publisher Blaze Interactive has promised four The Da Vinci Code mobile games in 2006.
The first of these, released to coincide with the film, is a clever little puzzler called The Da Vinci Code: Light Puzzle. We've played enough puzzle games in our time, each of which is usually a variation on a theme (Tetris clones still dominate). But this game offers something a little different.
The basic gameplay involves directing the beams of light that pour through the windows of the Rosslyn Chapel (the setting for the book/film's grand reveal) into their respective coloured crystals. To do this, you must position mirrors around the room to reflect the light where you want it to go.
The first few levels are easy enough, but things get pretty tricky pretty quickly, as more obstacles appear that you need to direct the light around. To make things even more complicated, new types of mirror as well as splitters and prisms are thrown in as you advance through the levels.
The object remains the same throughout, however: get the light to illuminate the appropriately coloured crystals.
While this is a pretty original concept for a game, it's slightly disappointing that each level must be completed within a set number of moves, as the sun rises and sets in the background, with each 90 degree rotation of a mirror counting as a move. The problem is that one wrong button press when you're rotating a mirror means expending two more turns to get it where you wanted it, which inevitably leads to you having to start the level again when you fail. A time limit might have been less frustrating, while still providing a stiff enough challenge.
That said, the The Da Vinci Code: Light Puzzle is good fun, and it's certainly different enough to make it worthwhile playing a few times, even if it doesn't reflect (arf arf) the storyline of the book and movie. It may not be a game that you play for long periods, as it does get a little repetitive, but it's ideal for a quick level or two every day on the bus to work or school.
The presentation of the game, as you might expect with the movie licence, is impressive, with plenty of nice in-game music, and well-designed menu and loading screens. The in-game visuals are a little basic, and the isometric view doesn't lend itself to the gameplay particularly well (a top-down view could have worked better), but everything important is clearly discernable.
Best of all though has to be the in-game dialogue between Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou). The script is so poorly written it becomes positively amusing - a bit like the film, but at least this has agame to make up for it.