'Artoon' - Xbox Live Indie Games Showcase

My affection for "Artoon" is arguably a case of style over substance. But when a game's got this much style, I'll take it.

The game is a simple little platformer in which you bounce across floating blocks to change their color, trying not to hit the same block twice or fall off the edge of the world. What makes the game special is its great visual creativity, with levels set in worlds that look like a geometry textbook run through a trash compactor. Adding to the challenge are level-by-level rule changes, like a world where you can only hit blocks of alternating colors, or a world where the blocks are constantly in motion and you have to jump frantically to avoid bouncing into empty space.

The game runs out of ideas before it runs out of game, and I wish they had tried some more radical things with the rules, as in the fantastic levels where shifting your view throws off the game's vertical hold. Also, for a game that's all about visual style, it's unfortunate that the levels past #5 are basically recycling of five basic designs.

But what’s there looks great, and the gameplay's genuinely tough-but-fair. It's easy to burn through levels if you just want to see what's next, or to challenge yourself with the demanding combo-points system. If you have fond memories of Q-Bert, or a taste for wacky visual design, this is definitely one to check out, and here’s hoping the designers’ next attempt goes a little further.