Not that there’s any shortage of them on DSiWare, but right off the bat it should be said that Jewel Legends: Tree of Life is a puzzle game. Not only is it a puzzle game, but it’s a match three puzzle game, which means that you know exactly what to expect with this download. While there are some new features to spice up what would otherwise be considered a tedious experience, the core gameplay is exactly what we’ve all come to know from this sort of game.
Like all match three puzzle games, Jewel Legends is all about sliding tiles around a grid in order to line similar tiles up next to each other. Once three or more of the same tiles are touching either horizontally or vertically, the tiles will disappear and be replaced with more tiles. Clearing all of the necessary tiles before time runs out means you’ve completed the level, and not finishing in time means you’ll have to start the level over again. It’s a winning formula that hasn’t changed in years.
Ancillary elements are added to the game, such as tiles that are locked in place until a match is made directly adjacent to them, and items that can be used to destroy certain tiles or add more time to your clock. These items add an element of strategy to gameplay, but realistically, the levels can be completed without using any of the items. If your tile matching skills are good enough, most levels can be completed without having to fuss with any of these special features.
The Adventure mode in Jewel Legends has levels broken up into ten separate sections, each with ten stages in them, coming to a total of 100 levels. As you progress through the game, new and progressively difficult levels will be unlocked. Jewel Legends also features what is referred to in game as Relax mode. This mode allows you to replay any levels that you’ve completed in adventure mode an infinite amount of times. Though the adventure won’t take you more than 10 hours to complete, the inclusion of Relax mode opens the door to limitless amounts of replayability for this title.
Gameplay takes place entirely on the DSi’s touch screen. The bottom screen displays your playing field, while the top screen shows how much time you have left, which pieces you still need to match, and other essential information. Despite the repetitive and predictable nature of the gameplay in Jewel Legends, it’s worth mentioning that the touch screen controls are incredibly tight. Though the controls may consist of little more than tapping a tile and then doing the same to an adjacent tile, the motion feels natural and never seems to lag or skip a step.
Also worth mentioning are the far less impressive visual and audio presentation. While Jewel Legends: Tree of Life is by no means an unattractive game, there’s nothing visually striking about it that makes it stand out from other similar games. All of the different tiles are easily distinguishable, which is of the utmost importance when you’re trying to match them up, but everything else in the game looks flat and lifeless. The soundtrack, which consists of about one song, or possibly two, doesn’t do much to help the presentation either. The music, while fitting the tone of the game, is a very generic and repetitive track that won’t stick in your head or have you humming long after you’re through playing.
Please know that Jewel Legends: Tree of Life is not, by any means, a poorly executed game, but it is one that has little to no ambition. The gameplay is familiar and the presentation is generic, but that doesn’t mean it’s no fun. If you really enjoy match three puzzle games at a very fair price, then you won’t be doing yourself a disservice by playing this one. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something new and different, then you’re not going to find it here.