Art Style: NEMREM (DSiWare)
| Art Style: NEMREM

I doubt many people outside developer Skip or Nintendo have played all the Art Style DSiWare download games. Indeed, even I'm slacking having missed last week's Art Style: KUBOS while on transatlantic duties.

Life tends to have that effect on nice but otherwise insignificant pieces of software. The latest Mario or Professor Layton gets enough lashings of marketing and PR that its presence will hang around for months on end. Digitally distributed games have a much smaller opportunity to find their audience.

This is a somewhat disingenuous comparison, of course. I doubt the budgets of all the Art Style games combined would add up to a single Mario or Layton. Nevertheless, they constitute Nintendo's only DSiWare franchise to-date, so we can't treat them as throwaway items either.

But following the enjoyable CODE and PiCOPiCT, it seems the series is running out of steam.

In and of itself, Art Style: NEMREM is fine, but nothing to get excited about. It's a formal turn-based puzzle game in which you have to move rows and columns consisting of coloured cells so that the colour of each cell matches the colour of the fixed spherical core that sit above it. Basically it's a combination of a sliding puzzle and Rubik's Cube.

Each of the puzzles comes with a target number of moves you have to match or better. There are nine puzzles in each stage but you only have to clear five to unlock the next stage. You can approach the nine in any order.

The stages themselves are themed in terms of natural elements such as sky and river, and more colours and special cells, such as locked cells, are added as you make progress.

Perhaps the most striking thing about NEMREM is that how much you'll enjoy it doesn’t really depend on the game itself. It’s much more likely to depend on how much you like cerebral puzzles. There's an awful lot of experimentation and very little excitement involved in finding each solution. Peggle this ain't.

Yet, being an Art Style game, the presentation - a sort of space theme - is pleasant, even if the actual colour scheme is fairly muted.

What's annoying is that, while you have a single move undo button, there's no button to reset the entire puzzle. This is useful as the solutions to some puzzles involve interlinked moves so you might not realise you've made an early wrong move until later on. In these circumstances, continually tapping the undo button is an added frustration.

Personally, then, Art Style: NEMREM was too static and linear for my tastes. Of course, it only costs 500 Nintendo Points ($5, €5, £4.50) but I’d expect it will struggle to provide that amount of enjoyment to anyone except the most fearsome abstract thinkers.

And I don't think you get many of those browsing the DSi Shop.

Art Style: NEMREM (DSiWare)

Like a sliding puzzle meshed with Rubik's Cube, Art Style: NEMREM is thought provoking but dull