Jewel Keepers: Easter Island owes a debt to Bejeweled, falling within the range of 'match three' games which have sprung up over the last few years. Popcap's game had been around for a while but became a huge success on ITunes and Facebook, creating scores of imitators in the process. So where does this particular imitator fall?
For the uninitiated, the game mechanics of the match-three genre are simple. You're presented with a grid of brightly-coloured shapes, and your task is to create a line of three or more shapes by swapping two such shapes. You're only permitted to swap if a line of three results, and if the shapes that drop down afterwards form another line of three, you can create combos, with power-ups usually becoming available through specific chains.
That's that, save for a few inconsequential parts: the core game, like any good puzzle game, is simple, and very addictive. So with Bejeweled 2 on WiiWare already, why buy this? For a start it's 500 Points, half as much as Bejeweled will set you back.
It also includes a pointless story: a bizarrely furious-looking man named, simply, Professor "H" attempting to save an anonymous victim of something or other along with his son and daughter. It's all very tacked-on, and demonstrates why puzzle games don't have stories.
There are two modes: story mode and free play. As you move on through the story mode, the levels become more difficult, either through grids with awkward shapes or jewels that can't initially be affected, and free play mode allows you to play around on those levels that you've already unlocked.
Rather than filling a combo meter to move to the next level, you must turn all the squares gold; that is, involve every square in a combo. Power-ups includes horizontal and vertical jewels to remove entire lines, and bombs that remove whatever colour the meter stops on.
It's presented well, but the controls and various different types of jewels are a bit fiddly. A good point is that there are many, many levels within the story mode – over 40 – and the story stretches throughout. This does help pad the game out and keep it interesting, although to simplify the game would have been better. It also would have been Bejeweled, but that's besides the point.
Of course, the theme does provide a diversion as well as befuddlement, and the combination of music and backgrounds ties it all together. It is, however, soulless in that this is the only thing setting it apart from games like Bejeweled. This, and the angry Professor "H" making an in-game cameo to remind the player that "You cannot do that!" should you make a wrong move, which while brilliant unfortunately gets tiresome after a while.
Something which could have extended the life of the game would have been a multiplayer mode, online or otherwise. Along with the small matter of price, this would give it the extra edge over Bejeweled, but sadly there's no multiplayer element. It's cheap, but it would have been good to have a multiplayer function – even a poor one – considering the lack of modes available in the game.
Whether you'll like Jewel Keepers: Easter Island is dependent on whether the multi-coloured elephant in the room Bejeweled is worth 1000 Points. With all its Mii support and multiple modes, it's the best alternative. However, it's still pretty pricey.
So is this better value for money? It's difficult to say how the game could be better – it's a Bejeweled clone, with a tacked-on story that flies very close to Jewel Quest. It's not great, it's not original, but it is 500 Points. If you have an extra 500 going spare, and you want to waste some hours, get this.