Stone me! It's a real gem!

Gem 'X logo

Publisher: Digital Distribution Price: £24.99

Gem'X is a puzzle game that will take minutes to learn, but literally months to master. In true Tetris style, first impressions are not good - but once you've got the hang of it, you'll be hooked for months.

The screen is split into two halves - both contain an equal number of gems, but some are of a different colour. The idea is to change the colours of the stones on the left so that they match the stones on the right.

Changing the colours of gems is simple enough - just touch one and it changes - but it's important to note the order in which the gems change. They change colour in a fixed order - Red is a virgin stone, but it can then drop down to green, blue pink and finally gold. If you click on a gold Gem, it disappears altogether, causing any stones above it to drop down to fill in the space left by the stone's absence.

Sounds simple so far, but things aren't quite that easy. For starters, when you click on a stone, it actually skips one colour (if it was red, it would skip green to become blue). Also, any stones that are directly above, below or to the side of the stone will be changed by one colour (red becomes green etc)/ Sapphire so good?

Things are complicated still further by the fact that you've only got a certain amount of time to figure out each screen. Most can be solved with little more than a couple of strategically placed mouse clicks, but some require lots of though. Once you've completed a level, it's onto the next - and there are 26 of them in total!

Gem'X has a very cute Japanese-like presentation, which extends to both its graphics, music and even its sound effects. Your companion throughout the game is a sweet little Japanese girl with an even sweeter voice. When you make a right move she will congratulate you with a cheery comment, but if you mess things up she's been known to weep!

Gem'X may seem rather dull at first, but some great graphics and sound raise it above the usual run of the mill puzzle game. It's highly playable, looks great and even sounds great - what more could you possible want?

Gem 'X logo

DEMONWARE £24.99 Joystick or mouse

Many puzzle games rely on a cutesy atmosphere to attract players and if anyone knows about how to produce cute things it's the Japanese. Japanese consumer culture is based heavily on 'cute', from pop stars to kids toys, if it doesn't look cuddly then you've had it!

Gem-X is very oriental in style, this is due to the fact that the game is full of bright colours and jolly, tinkly music and guess what? Cute girls with big eyes.

Turning Japanese
The game is introduced bya a particularly pretty female, Kiki, who leads you through your quest. The game itself is simple. The screen is split in two halves, stacked with coloured gems. You must move the hovering hand around the left-hand screen, clicking on gems to change their colours, the order of which are shown on a diagram down the centre of the screen. You must click the right gems to match the pattern shown on the right.

If this sounds too easy, the gems don't change quite that simply. The gem clicked on jumps two down the chain, while those adjacent to it drop one down the chain. If any gem goes past yellow, then it's removed from the screen.

You must complete a number of screens on each level in a set number of moves, or you will not be allowed to progress further. At the end of each level you will be given a password and the option of choosing the next stage from a progressive 'tree'.

Girl with the faraway eyes
The most striking thing when loading Gem-X is the cute Japanese feel the game has. From the amusing little samples that tell you how well you're doing to the slightly risque inter-level cartoon pictures, the game just oozes an oriental flavour.

In a time when puzzle games seem to star either imagery or unimaginative blob-like creatures, the superb comic-book style employed in Gem-X comes as a welcome change.

The game is incredibly compulsive. The going starts easily enough to allow you to get the feel of the colour protocols, but once you get halfway along the 'tree'the going gets tough very quickly.

A game that had a similar approach to Gem-X's level construction was Puzznic. But Gem-X boosts its lastability by selecting the screens you play at random, so even if you play it for hours you still stand a good chance of coming up against an unexpected level.

This variety coupled with the marvellous presentation and sheer addictiveness make Gem-X one of the most compelling puzzle games to have appeared for some time.

Gem 'X
1. Colour progresses.
Gem 'X
2. Click on centre gem of four.
Gem 'X
3. Adjacent progress by one, centre progresses by two.

Gem 'X logo Amiga Joker Hit

Mit diesem Tüftelspiel gibt die brandneue Programmier-Truppe "Kaiko" ihren Einstand. Eine Premiere mit internationalem Flair: Der Name ist japanisch, die Burschen sind deutsch, und ihr Erstlingswerk ist Spitze!

Auf den ersten Blick könnte man meinen, den Sega-Automaten "Columns" vor sich zu haben, das Spielprinzip ist aber eher mit "Logo" verwandt: Auf einem gesplitteten Screen findet man rechts eine Anordnung von bunten Steinchen, links auch.

Der linke Haufen soll nun unter Zeitdruck dergestalt werden, daß er genauso aussieht wie der rechte. Dies läßt sich durch Anklicken erreichen, wodurch der betreffende Stein in einer bestimmten Reihenfolge die Farbe wechselt - leider aber auch seine Nachbarn, was bedacht sein will! Das Game fängt einfach an, und das Prinzip ist im Nu begriffen. Aber keine Sorge, hakelig wir es früh genug...

Selten wurde eine Knobelei so liebevoll präsentiert: Ein hübsches Intro, astreine Grafik mit neckischen Gags, prima Hülsbeck-Sound und ein bißchen Sprachausgabe - das reicht ja fast für zwei Denkspiele!

Zu bemängeln wäre höchstens die ungenaue Joystick-Steuerung. Aber die Juwelen lassen sich ja auch mit der Maus bearbeiten, und das völlig problemlos.

Somit ist GEM 'X ein feines Spielchen für die Feierabend-Flucherei, das dank seiner stolzen 416 Level auch nicht so schnell an Reiz verliert. Wenn der nächste Kaiko-Release (fernöstliche Action mit dem "Ninja in Space") diesen Qualitätsstandard halten kann, wird man sich bald um die Jungs prügeln!.

Gem 'X logo

Arcade quality puzzling, Japanese style. (And it's cute too!)

A late entry in the abstract-puzzle-game stakes, Gem-X immediately invites comparisons with both Ocean's Puzznic and the Sega arcade game Columns. Yes, it's sort of similar to both, though look beneath the cosmetics and you'll see that in gameplay terms Gem-X has a style all its own.

Briefly, the game presents you with a split screen, one half of which contains a pile of various-coloured gems, the other half of which contains... er, a pile of various-coloured gems. The idea is to make the pile on the left match exactly with the pile on the right by means of a simple transformation principle.

Clicking the mouse (or joystick) on a particular gem will cause it to change colour by two steps in a given sequence. The four gems around it will also change, but only by one step in the sequence.

If a transformation would cause the colour of any gem to go beyond the last colour in the sequence, that gem will disappear and the others in the pile will fall down to fill the gap (Klax-style). You have only a certain number of moves in which to complete a screen, and you must do it inside a time limit too. And really that's all there is to it.

Rather than go into a deep and involved analysis of the game and then coming up with a conclusion, I'll give you the conclusion now.
Gem-X is utterly, utterly wonderful, and here's why. From the start, the game absolutely oozes class. Presentation-wise it looks like an arcade game, and it's structured like one too, with very easy initial levels gently drawing you in, building in difficulty until you're really hooked, then hitting you with screens that will make your jaw drop to the floor in horror and your brain beg for mercy.

You won't be able to leave it alone, though, because it's all wrapped up with luscious graphics and impossibly lovely sound, including sampled speech that'll steal your heart away and refuse to give it back. You'll find yourself actually talking back to Gem-X, but no-one will think you're weird because everyone else will be doing exactly the same, completely transfixed by the angelic voice of Kiki, the game's Japanese hostess.

Kiki's friends also make the odd appearance in the game, as every time you complete a few screens you get a codeword that lets you start on the higher levels, each one delivered by a beautiful Japanese girl with no clothes on (but tastefully obscured by a fluffy bunny rabbit or some other such icon of cuteness). You probably wouldn't be all that surprised if I was to tell you this makes some pretty major-league addictiveness, so I won't waste my breath and we'll all just take it as read, okay?

When this game came into the office, we all had a look and went 'Oh yes, that looks nice, might have a go on that in a while if I've got nothing else to do'. Some time later, the security guard was inquiring whether we in fact had any homes to go to, as it was the middle of the night and he'd sort of like to lock up the building. We threw him out of a third floor window and had another game. And another game. And one last game. And 'Okay, just one more game and then I'm definitely going home'. And then... well, you get the picture. Gem-X. Why haven't you bought it yet?

Gem 'X Clicking on a gem will transform it into a gem two lower down in the sequence. Adjacent gems will be transformed one gem down the sequence. Once past the yellow gem, they will disintegrate.
Gem 'X 
FOR EXAMPLE. Clicking on the gem in the centre of this grid...
Gem 'X 
...results in the pattern looking like this.
Gem 'X Moves remaining
Gem 'X Tries left on this level
Gem 'X Levels before next password
Gem 'X Time remaining

Gem 'X logo

Software imported from Germany and France is a fairly common occurrence, but Gem'X is the first time a game has been brought over from the Japanese. As can be expected, it's a cutesy puzzle romp, which involves exercising the grey cells rather than the trigger finger, and as such it's one of the better ones.

Once the usual plethora of scantily-clad and wide-eyed girls have been skipped past, the game proper begins with the setting up of a number of colour bricks. The screen is split vertically into two key sections, with the player's area on the left-hand side of the screen, and a slightly rearranged series of blocks to the right.

The aim of the game is to reposition the left-hand blocks into a pattern identical to those on the right, and when completed it's on to the next level. In addition, a sequence of coloured tiles is shown in the middle area of the screen, and shows the pattern the tiles cycle when selected.

When a block is selected, it changes from its present colour to two steps down the coloured sequence. In addition, any tiles surrounding the selected brick are similarly switched to the next colour in their sequence - and to add to your problems, only a set number of moves are allowed.

As puzzle games go, Gem'X is adequate. Its gameplay tends to get a little repetitive, and whilst the screens are initially addictive, the long-term appeal is extremely limited.
Not bad, but only for a short time.

Gem 'X logo

"A Japanese game? This better not mean I have to crawl Endurance-style through a trough of giant cockroaches!" screeched Amaya Lopez indignantly. So we gagged her, put her in a silk kimono and made her play Gem 'X.

The Japanese, eh? They're a funny old bunch. Or maybe funny's not quite the right word. Take their game shows for example, where contestants partake in crazy 'japes' like hanging upside down in the desert while multi-coloured salamanders are poured down their throats. (It's people lie this who make the likes of Jeremy Beadle acceptable)..

Well, their computer games are pretty weird too - and Gem'X is no exception. It's the first game to be marketed over her on the Kaiko label and it's a puzzle game of brain-mangling proportions.

Throughout you're 'treated' to Marine Boy-type graphics - you know the kind of thing: Scantily clad girls with voluminous hair and huge, er... eyes. Your task is to reproduce the right hand pattern of coloured gems on the left hand side of the screen.

But clicking on a gem not only changes its colour but also affects all the other gems above, below, or to the side of it. The way the colours change follows a predetermined 'table': if you click on a red gem it will, as it were, move two colours down the table and turn blue. All other gems touching it will move one colour down the table, so a green gem will turn blue, a pink one yellow etc.

But beware of the yellow ones: they disappear, leaving your pieces to tumble Tetris-like into their space. To make mattes worse, you're battling against the clock and your moves and 'retries' are counted.

If you succeed Kiki congratulates you with a variety of digitized come-on lines like "Wooo", "Ahhh", "You made it" and "Let's strip". (Er... sorry, I got carried away). As you progress you're given the dubious honour of meeting some of Kiki's friends. This is where you realise you'd sorely misjudged Kiki - at least she keeps her clothes on!

However, as each new girl is exposed, so is a pass-word which means you can access that level without having to go back to the start. You can play against the computer or a chum and with 26 'mines' to complete and 400 levels in total, you'll have to be pretty damn, er... gemmy to make it.

Amiga reviewAmaya:"Hi, I'm Kinky!" Kiki exclaims as you prepare to do battle with a series of multi-coloured gems (well that's what it sounds like, anyway). Not exactly the kind of thing that enhances one's power of concentration.

And you'll need all these powers as you desperately try to make the same coloured pattern as the one Kinky has provided. Co-ordination never having been my strong point at the best of times, the task of a) noticing which stones had to change colour and b) calculating how just one move will affect a whole plethora of gems in less time than it takes to say Emperor Hirohito, seemed an insurmountable feat.

Then I started to get the knack, Kiki began stop shedding tears of despair at my efforts. But as I began to swell to with pride, the patterns became more complex - and Kiki was weeping again.

Gem 'X is initially hard to get to grips with, becomes easier as you get hooked and then shatters your complacency by becoming nigh on impossible. And that's the crux of its stressful addictiveness - the difficulty level is pitched just right. Let's face it, no one wants a puzzle game they can complete in an hour. However, the two player option is slightly disappointing. If you and a chum choose the same path or 'mine', you can sometimes end up watching each other complete the same puzzle.

The graphics are slickly implemented and Kiki and her friends do add a certain um... Je ne sais quoi to the proceedings, if only by keeping you guessing: will it be a bare bottom or full frontal this time? (Blimey. Ed.)
Sound is also well coded with a crisp background ditty and the effectively digitised coo of girls' voices. That said, the numerous times Kiki softly whispered "I love you" to me were rather unnerving and did throw the matter of Kiki's sexuality into the balance.

Gem 'X is neatly presented, challenging and addictive. So if you're into brain teasers, pixellated Jezebels and animals, go take a cold shower. Then go out and buy it.