Review by SneakTheSnake
It's certainly a good game to pull out every once in a while.
An effective puzzle game survives on a simple premise. As far as Neves is concerned, well, we're talking about a kind of puzzle that has been around for centuries, namely that of the tangram. Usually played out with a set of wood pieces, tangrams, which originate in China, involve rotating and placing pieces on a flat surface in arrangements that resemble real-world objects. Take the scalene triangle, the two right triangles, the arrow-shaped piece, two half-arrow pieces and the vase-shaped piece and place them together. That's really about all there is to tangrams - I'm sure every child's played with one at some point - and that's about all there is to Neves, a game whose title completely baffles me. It's Portuguese for "snows" and is a popular surname in Portugal and Brazil. I don't get it. However, it's a very competent game and an enjoyable one, although the thin concept may wear thin.
Neves presents the player with well over 500 individual tangram puzzles, whose difficulty is basically set by the obscurity and trickiness behind each shape. You can play each puzzle in a free play mode, a time attack mode (see how long it takes you to complete the puzzle) and a "7 pieces mode", in which it's up to you to place each piece perfectly on the first try. There are various other modes, including competitive online play, an extensive options menu (where you can change the color of the pieces and the background music, that kind of thing) and a mode called "The Room", in which you see your unlocked puzzles arranged in categories like "Letters and Numbers", "Animals" and "Objects". The puzzles you can see are only from the "Rooms" you've unlocked, which are sets of 45-or-so puzzles. Rooms become unlockable once you beat earlier rooms. Neves, then, is all rather straightforward.
The game controls entirely with the DS stylus. Players pick up pieces and rotate them with the stylus, and they can double-tap a piece to flip it 180 degrees. It's all very intuitive, from the options navigation to the quick and easy puzzle interface. The game functions just fine.
There's certainly a lot to do in Neves, that is, if you're a fan of tangrams. If you're not, then the game most likely is not for you. Even if you are, then the concept may wear thin. I find myself to be pretty ambivalent toward tangram puzzles, but I've become pretty adept at them, I'd say, after a few dozen puzzles in Neves. You begin to get a feel for which piece will fit in which part of the given silhouette, and you'll begin solving puzzles in less than thirty seconds. There are some head-scratching puzzles, yes, which makes one thankful that there are plenty of other puzzles open for trying if you're stuck on one, but these tend to be rare. Playing the puzzles in the various modes is more or less for bragging rights; they're still the same 500 puzzles.
The graphics, sound and interface are good. I especially enjoy the sleek interface; it's very straightforward and no-nonsense. The game is very organized, with easily-navigable menus and plenty of options. Nothing seems out of place; it's not graphically impressive by any stretch, but it's competent and classy. The music is mostly jazz tunes, and they may be jarring a bit after extended play (as these jazz tunes all sound more or less the same, at least to me), but it's well-produced and doesn't detract from the puzzle-solving.
Neves is fine for what it is; I can't help but think that this could have been better served as a double- or triple-pack in a larger puzzle collection but, as a standalone package now worth very little money, I would recommend picking it up. That is to say, if you enjoy... tangrams.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Neves (US, 11/06/07)
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