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Art Style: AQUIA

by Neal Ronaghan - April 8, 2009, 11:12 pm EDT
Total comments: 10


An original take on the match-three puzzle genre that is very challenging but ultimately unfulfilling.

Art Style: Aquia is one of the first original DSiWare titles and the latest in the Art Style series. Developed by Skip Ltd., Aquia is a unique and atmospheric puzzle game with an underwater theme. It also happens to be brutally hard.

The game's premise involves a deep sea diver who is swimming to a goal. The player must get this diver to the goal by playing a match-three puzzle game. The game area features a large two-screen column that is three blocks wide and comprised of different-colored blocks. The player must flip and insert two or four-block pieces (depending on the difficulty) into the sides of the column in order to make a match. Whenever a piece is inserted, an equal number of blocks are pushed out the opposite side, creating the next piece.

The player's goal is to make enough matches to get the diver to the goal, which is shown on the right side of the screen. He slowly advances as you make more matches, and he takes longer to finish in the later levels. As you make more matches, more blocks come in from the bottom to fill in the empty spaces. Going against the player is the diver's air supply, which is shown by darkness that slowly goes down the screen as time passes. Air can be recovered by matching three highlighted blocks, but these special blocks only appear after you have made several matches.

The different difficulty settings aren't labeled easy, medium, and hard; rather, they are represented by different piece shapes that are inserted into the column. The easiest difficulty is two vertical blocks, the next step up is two horizontal blocks, and the hardest mode is a square of four blocks. There are ten levels for each mode, but disappointingly, the game only records the quickest time taken to complete each level and the highest chain you got. There is also an endless mode that tracks how deep you dive into the sea.

Aquia has an extremely steep learning curve. Being a unique puzzle game, it is very difficult to acclimate to and it isn't too forgiving. The later levels can take upwards of 20 minutes to complete, and you can very easily die in minute 19 and have to start all over again. Besides the three difficulties, there isn't much variation among the levels: you're doing the same things throughout the game, just with a crueler time limit.

By completing the game's levels, you unlock different aquariums, which feature various fish and act as the in-game, configurable backgrounds. It's nothing game-changing, but it's a nice extra and something to work for.

Art Style: Aquia is an original take on the match-three puzzle genre, and its ominous setting make for a nice puzzle environment. However, it lacks variety and is quite difficult. Regardless, it stands as another interesting entry in Nintendo's burgeoning Art Style series.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8 9 8 7 5 7

Aquia is an extremely atmospheric game and despite its minimalist presentation, it looks good.


The music fits the atmosphere and gameplay extremely well. It's a mixture between soothing and scary and has about ten different tracks that loop while you play. The music becomes more dissonant as your air supply is depleted.


Using only the D-pad and the face buttons, Aquia has simple and intuitive controls.


While it has a steep learning curve, the game is enjoyable with its unique puzzle design.


There are 30 levels to attempt, but the only differences among levels within the same difficulty setting are a crueler time limit and take longer to complete.


Art Style: Aquia is a fun take on the stale match-three puzzle genre, but besides its crazy difficulty and foreboding underwater presentation, there isn't much to it. Fans of the Art Style series and puzzle games will enjoy this, but those looking for a deeper or easier experience should look elsewhere.


  • Fantastic music
  • Inventive and unique puzzle game
  • Nice, atmospheric presentation
  • Not much variety
  • Very unforgiving
Review Page 2: Conclusion


The lengthy levels seem to go against the otherwise quick diversion appeal of this downloadable. Even so, it  seems like a good fit for DSiWare.

StratosApril 09, 2009

Thanks for the insightful review. I think this isn't a game I would be interested in. I think I'd like the art direction and the ambiance of diving underwater but the gameplay (yet another match 3 game) and lack of variety seem to do it in for me.

I grabbed this game, and I'm finding it ridiculously hard to figure out. I mean, I understand the concept and how the game is played, but I'm just struggling with finding a rhythm.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusJuly 24, 2009

I just grabbed this the other day thanks to Pepsi's awesome Rock Band promotion and I'm absolutely loving it. I'm not sure what it is, but the game clicked with me immediately. I've found that the medium difficulty block is for some reason easier for me than the horizontal block representing easy.

The part that grabs me the most about the game is how radically different you have to play for each different block formation. Each one requires a different strategy to manipulate and eliminate the blocks which is really freakin' cool.

The Endless mode is pretty intense too. I tried that out on the medium setting and kept on for quite a while. It's great when you can slam together the three highlighted blocks at the last second to keep your dive from ending. Seeing that whole screen re-illuminate is great encouragement to keep rocking it hard.

All in all, this is probably my favorite DSiWare Art Style game. I must admit though that I like all of them very much, so this really only inches out the others.

That's funny, because I think this is my least favorite.

I agree with Neal.  I love the others, but this one gets boring fast.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusJuly 24, 2009

I find this really interesting. Oddly enough, I think Rotohex is one of my favorite WiiWare Art Style games now too. I really like Orbient and Cubello is pretty cool too, but I could sit and play Rotohex for hours.

I feel so casual.

Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusJuly 26, 2009

Or maybe you like simple to learn, but hard to master games ;).

KDR_11kJuly 26, 2009

Yep, casual. Hardcore gamers only play games that require extensive tutorials but never let you lose progress.

Quote from: Mr.

I find this really interesting. Oddly enough, I think Rotohex is one of my favorite WiiWare Art Style games now too. I really like Orbient and Cubello is pretty cool too, but I could sit and play Rotohex for hours.

I feel so casual.

Heh, Rotohex was one of my least favorite bit generations games on the GBA so I didn't even buy the WiiWare version.

My girlfriend doesn't play games, but she was immediately hooked on the puzzle mode of Base 10, and we played it together for a while.

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Genre Puzzle
Developer Skip Ltd.

Worldwide Releases

na: Art Style: AQUIA
Release Apr 05, 2009
jpn: Art Style: AQUARIO
Release Dec 24, 2008
RatingAll Ages
eu: Art Style: AQUITE
Release Apr 03, 2009
aus: Art Style: AQUITE
Release Apr 02, 2009

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