Diamond Islands
| Diamond Islands

Here's a game that gives you a pretty fair idea of what it must have been like lugging all those giant slabs of stone about for the poor sods who built Stonehenge. And, playing it, we now have an idea of why historians think it might have taken them about 6000 years to complete.

Diamond Islands basically has you moving a totem pole around each level - which is shoved and rolled by four little tribesmen from its start point to the square it has to occupy at the end.

Which is a task in itself in some levels, but the challenge is made even greater by the six diamonds you also have to collect along the way. With all six collected and your totem pole erected in the right place, the wrath of the gods is calmed, and you get to move onto the next of the game's 100 levels.

Diamond Islands is essentially a grid-based puzzle game where odd-shaped areas and corners cause all types of head-scratching as you negotiate your pole back, forth and round again like an old man trying to navigate his Ford Cortina out of tight parking space. These grids, though, are disguised as sunny, lively islands - ten different ones in total - which are far nicer to look at than boring old squares.

The islands too don't just look pretty, but provide all sorts of environmental features which add complexity to the puzzles. There are bridges that form after activating switches, a boat that you can stand your totem pole in to cross to a different place, and mud, which makes your totem slide one extra square. All of which you'll need to use and master in order to get your totem pole to its final destination.

What Diamond Islands does quite effortlessly with its slick learning curve is make moving your totem pole become second nature. At the beginning you're not sure exactly how its movements work, but soon it's second nature to navigate previously baffling areas. Then the game throws even more complex levels at you, and even the odd level in which you can only move your totem pole a number of times before it breaks.

These totem-breaking levels were our least favourite, and we're glad Digital Chocolate didn't make every level like them - instead they only come along now and then. It might have added longevity, but at the risk of frustration. The game is most enjoyable when you're trying out different ways of managing your bulky totem pole without a time or movement limit, and the later levels are tough enough without needing them. Levels with limited moves force you to memorise a route through and make few mistakes - something which tips the game's difficulty level into a whole new dimension.

Diamond Islands only has one game mode, which might sound a bit stingy, but it's a massive game. And what has been included, which almost counts as an extra mode, are collectable spells awarded for completing levels to certain criteria, usually relating to diamond-collecting or the number of moves it takes you to complete a level.

Having so much to polish off makes Diamond Islands a winner, but it would be anyway just for being such a quirky and addictive little puzzle game. Underneath the colourful visuals it's a very simple game, but one with well designed levels that'll have you stubbornly rolling that totem pole about for days. We're not saying we'd do it for the next 6000 years, but we'll possibly still be picking it up a few months from now.

Diamond Islands

A sweet and very playable puzzler than hides a tough challenge under its cute visuals. Its variation of levels, environmental items and collectable spells will keep you hooked even when you think you've had enough