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.
Amaya:"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.