Warning: The following sentence has already proved so controversial that a quick team meeting pitching it resulted in awkward glares and a deathly silence, unaccepted to the extent that -For this one review only- I was forced to drop the KN 'we' and call myself 'I'. The statement in question? Art Style: Intersect is the best action-puzzle game ever made.
No doubt very few of you know the game, and therefore what you're missing out on. INTERSECT, part of the Art Style series- a range of downloadable puzzle games on WiiWare and DSiWare that focus on the game itself, not the added polish. This results in the excellent old-school graphical and menu style. While this isn't as lovely in terms of presentation as fellow Art Style title PICTOPICT, INTERSECT more than makes up for it with the game itself, which, after all, is the point in this series.
The premise is simple, yet only when you're playing. It's extremely hard to explain, making the game near-impossible to sell. Even the very in-depth instruction video (Which has the luxuraries of both being interactive and able to play a moving picture) struggles. Yet, play it for 5 minutes and the core gameplay mechanics will be forever engraved in your mind. I'll give it a shot- You are presented with a crossroad, shaped like a +. Out of each lane, comes a differently coloured shape, which are called cars by the instructions, although there's nothing car-y about them, which stack up at the end of another lane. There are three different colours of cars- KN forum red, Nintendo advert room white and PS3 grey/black. You may only have cars of one colour in each lane at once, if you put one of a different colour in, it replaces the previously positioned car/group. The aim here is to stack up 5 of the same colour in each aisle. You do this by pressing the direction you want it to go when it crosses the mid-point of the +. Don't press anything and the car will drive on in a straight line.
Understood it so far? Good, because it's about to get a bit confusing.
Once you get 5 in a lane, it turns to the colour of the cars that went into the lane, the cars disappearing. This gives you a small amount of fuel. Get another 5 cars of ...the same colour in there for more fuel. 5 more, you get more fuel. All this plays out on the top screen. On the bottom, you have a 'Core', which is being chased up a vertical pillar by a 'Spike' The Core is powered by your fuel. To get the fuel to the car, you need a Trig Car, which come by occasionally, but also can be brought in with a press of the A button. However, you only get three, so use them carefully. When it goes through an aisle, all the fuel built up goes to the core, sending up so many metres. The more fuel, the more metres. Metres act as your score.
That's the basics. You can play the game for many happy hour with just this core information, but it took us 20 minutes to start to latch onto the more complex ideas. The game's full of them, with that of doubling your fuel by sending a wrong-coloured car down the aisle when there are also two other active (Coloured) rows. However, you lose your chance to have a shot at the fuel machine that is Overdrive Mode.
There are also a number of tactical decisions that need to be made on the fly. You’ve got no time to think; do you want to try and get a huge amount of fuel built up, create some massive combos, risking the Spike catching up, or send Trig Cars down regularly, keeping the metres count ticking over, stopping the Core being hit but not getting you very far clear of it, or very far towards beating your high score.
There's also a rather nice multi-player mode, in which you attempt to move the Core towards your opponents' goal line, instead of away from the Spike and a touch screen mode that works well enough, although seems slightly tacked on, to make it seem different from the original Japan-only GBA game. Unfortunately, there's no online multiplayer or leader boards, our only real gripe- I'd love to know how my best score of 60,567 stacks up with the rest of the world. As a high score challenge, INTERSECT is as good, if not better, than anything else on DSiWare.
INTERSECT will eat up thousands of hours. Got 10 minutes to kill? This game will brutally gun down 40. By having an odd scoring system, it allows for ever-varying tactics and gameplay, it won't get old. The only time we ever did get bored mid-game, we'd been at the one game for over 2 hours. Often, time-guzzling isn't actually a good thing. There will be a feeling of guilt post-game. Not here- unlike most puzzlers, it makes what you wanted out loud to be 5 minutes seem like 5 minutes, even though you'll just have devoured enough time to create your own TARDIS. I don't know whether it's legal to put a price on fun, (Well, outside of Texas) but 500 points (Only £4!) for 500 hours seems about fair. (Note- I haven't spent 500 hours on this game. Yet. Give it a few more months...)
You may have endured a headache reading those last few paragraphs, and if you did we don't blame you, so long as you're prepared to give the game a chance. Tetris must have been hard to explain at first around, and if you ask me, this is above even the Great Russian block-dropper. This is puzzling at its peak.