Neves DS Review

Puzzle games are ideally suited to portable play on the DS, and this latest example has to impress in a crowded market. The alert amongst you may have spotted that the unusual name is actually just “SEVEN” reversed. Maybe if they had called it Tangram Training, it would have flown off the shelves…

The aim of the game is based around the ancient Chinese puzzle Qi Qiao Ban (Seven Boards of Cunning), where seven pieces or “tans” are arranged into shapes. The pieces cannot overlap. Neves uses a special set of seven pieces – two right-angled triangles, two small trapezoids, two large trapezoids and a large square block with a pointed end. These are manipulated on the touch screen, with the top screen showing the target shape at all times. A piece can be picked up and dragged into place, rotated by touching the corners and flipped by double-tapping.

Four different modes are included. Silhouettes? is the main mode, split into a serious of rooms. Each room has more than 40 different puzzles and they gradually become more difficult. You have unlimited time to complete the silhouette, and can reset the puzzle at any time or quit to select another. Once all the puzzles in a room are complete, the next room is unlocked. (The first room of each of four levels is open initially, with two rooms to open at each level).

Time Pressure adds a three-minute time limit. If you solve the current puzzle within three minutes, you get the gold medal. Taking longer will earn you a silver. These are the same sets of puzzles, just played against the clock. 7 Steps is for the best players only, requiring that you complete the puzzle by moving each piece just once. This requires a lot of planning ahead. Finally, Bragging Rights allows a two player game as the players race to complete three different puzzles head to head. This only requires a single game card, using the DS’s Download Play feature.

Presentation is very straightforward, with the option to change piece colour (which has little effect) and background music. It may be best turning the music off completely as it loops quickly and becomes very repetitive. Control seems obvious and fairly easy, but there are times when a shape will start to rotate when you wanted to move and vice versa. The real skill lies in seeing ahead to what piece will fit into the remaining gaps, particularly in 7 Steps mode. Over time you do become quicker at recognising where the first couple of pieces should go. The puzzles themselves are quite good, requiring you to make animals, modes of transport, characters and so on. You can get a summary of the types in “The Room”, where all the other game options are changed.

With over 500 puzzles there is certainly depth. Whether the player will want to attempt completing all the puzzles three times over is debatable. The dilemma is what would have improved the interface – some way of highlighting a piece is in the correct place would have been nice, or perhaps evaluating the player on all three modes at the same time. For those with the patience it does become compulsive, so puzzle fans might want to add one to that final overall score. Had this been full price it would have been very difficult to recommend. Neves is not destined to be the greatest DS puzzle game ever, but for those wanting to try out a different sort of puzzle then it could be worth purchasing.


Note: for the purposes of this review the US version was tested, but there will be little or no difference (other than language options) in the European/PAL release.