Nintendo DS

Neves: Tangram with a touch screen


neves1.jpgLike all great ideas, Neves on the DS is so obvious that I don't know why someone didn't think of it sooner.  Neves (which incidentally is seven backwards) is basically a game of tangram on the DS.


What exactly is tangram?  If you haven't played it in elementary school, you missed out.  It's a deceptively simple game that consists of seven shapes ranging from triangles to some weird quadrilaterals. The object of the game is to orient the pieces into a number of specific shapes.  For example, you're shown a silhouette of a helicopter.  The silhouette shows the shape, but not which pieces go where, which is up to the player to figure out.


The touch screen controls on the DS work brilliantly in Neves. So brilliantly that you may not even think it's possible to play the game any other way.  The stylus is used to drag pieces around. By dragging corners in a circular direction, you can rotate the pieces.  Tapping on the pieces will flip them over.  Using a combination of these controls, players can place the correct pieces into place to create the shape they want.


neves2.jpgThe concept is so simple that I even think playing on the DS is a step up from playing the analog game.  No longer do you have to look around for missing pieces.  No longer do you have to wrestle a piece away from the mouth of your dog.  Everything is neatly laid out for you on the screen already.  The only addition I wish they had added to the DS version was the use of shoulder buttons for quick rotations.


I was surprised to see that the game boasts of hundreds of puzzles.  It's amazing that just seven little pieces can come together to make so many shapes.  If the regular puzzle mode is too easy, there are also time trial modes (where you only get 3 minutes per puzzle) and harder modes where you're limited to only a certain number of moves.  For the more competitive player, there's also 2 player mode (2 DS's, 1 cartridge) in which each player is given a set of 3 puzzles the first to finish all 3 wins. My favorite is still the regular puzzle mode.  There's just something relaxing about having all the time in the world and letting your imagination help you put the pieces into place.


Neves is a fantastic game for anyone who wants a relaxing puzzler that doesn't rely on twitchy reactions.  I can see the Sudoku crowd enjoying this.  While the music is forgettable enough that I simply turned it off, the gameplay is addictive to the point where I played for another hour after I was about to turn it off because I kept thinking, "Okay, just one more puzzle."

Louise Yang