Review: Jewel Adventures (DSiWare)

Woo-hoo, glitchy woman

Jewel Adventures is a puzzle game that’s partially familiar due to its match three gameplay, but freshened up by a few extra layers of depth. A sense of story, enemy battles, world (re)building and various gameplay goals are the glue that gives this puzzler a bit more substance than most like it. Much of it is only fluff – considering you don’t really have any freedom outside of the puzzling – but regardless, it serves to make the player feel like they’re doing more than just playing puzzle after puzzle, simply chasing high-scores.

Match three gems horizontally or vertically on the grid and they clear, match more and you’ll receive bombs and other powered-up pieces that allow additional damage to be done. On the top screen there will be enemies that close-in on your character, one step at a time; clearing gems will cause you to attack those enemies, and lay them down before they get too close and inflict damage. In some stages you’ll need to clear 100 specified blocks to win, others simply require that you defeat all enemies. But the main objective usually is clearing gems that overlap white spaces filled in on the grid.

Generally this all works pretty well, as the sense of purpose and progression through the numerous stages really does make you feel like you’re accomplishing something. There’s one major problem, though. At the most random of times we’d run into a glitch that would ruin whatever stage we were currently playing. This mainly occurred right after we’d match three gems; the pieces would align, but not clear, and then the bottom touch-screen would go unresponsive. You could hear noises when you’d tap away, though nothing would happen. At this point we’d have to wait patiently for an enemy to kill our character, run out the clock, or pause and quit the match entirely.

Another flaw that we found is that you can complete many of the more basic levels by randomly clicking all over the screen. Sure, it is a cheap method that can be blamed on the volition of the player, but nevertheless, this weakness challenges the integrity of the gameplay. We tested it on at least ten stages with no issue at all; we beat out the clock with much time to spare. Difficulty spikes are also present, and can totally suck the fun out of things when they occur. For example, we completed about five full areas with ease then happened upon a stage that took nearly twenty attempts to beat. When we finally did find success, it felt more like luck than skill, like the game decided to give us what we needed on that particular turn.

There is a hub where you can purchase various structures across a map with the coins you’ve earned playing. This is a superficial additive though, as these acquisitions only allow new stages to be unlocked elsewhere; yet it’s still welcome, as it invests more liveliness into the package, regardless of its limited functionality. You’ll also find a classic mode which offers arcade-style play for those looking to play without commitment. Overall there is no shortage of stages to play in Jewel Adventures, and when the game is performing as it should, it’s addicting and a deal of good fun. It’s just unfortunate that there are some serious issues holding it back from a recommendation.

Conclusion

All in all, there’s a solid and engaging challenge in Jewel Adventures, but major glitches can take your hard work away from you at any moment. If these crippling issues weren’t present, and the difficulty was more smoothed out, we could recommend this one as a decent budget puzzler with a nice sense of progression; however these things are devastating to the gameplay and entirely maddening when they do occur. Take this adventure at your own discretion.

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