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Game Review

Jewel Master Atlantis 3D Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

A diamond in the rough?

For years now, Cerasus Media has been pumping out game after game in the Jewel Master series, and very little has changed in that time. Each instalment is usually playable and entertaining enough, but in most instances the gameplay formula and overall presentation have remained the same. And while the classic phrase "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" may apply in Cerasus Media's case (after all, the series continues to sell well it would seem), it's becoming harder to justify handing over our hard-earned cash for more or less exactly the same experience each time.

Despite this, it seems that the development team has finally cottoned on to the fact that change might indeed be a good thing. That's because Jewel Master Atlantis 3D — the latest game in the popular Match-3 series — bucks the trend. The core tile-swapping experience hasn't changed by any means, but lots of the issues that plagued previous entries have been remedied. It's far from revolutionary, but overall the improvements make for a much more streamlined and enjoyable experience.

In Jewel Master Atlantis 3D, the premise is fairly simple. The game starts off with a mermaid (or merman depending on who you choose) telling you that the once great mythical city of Atlantis was sunk by an evil god and that you must now help to rebuild it. Doing so requires quite a lot of resources, and the only way to amass these is to match up three or more corresponding tiles on a board. Yes, it may seem nonsensical, but such is the world of Jewel Master.

The adventure is thankfully a much smoother experience than in previous titles. The city building elements have been scaled down, with the focus now being on completing so many levels, rather than just collecting resources. You do still need to get a certain amount of three different resources per level, but it's only so that you can complete that particular level. Essentially, a real in-depth management sim-esque experience would have been the ideal direction to go in for this, but at least now this aspect of the game isn't getting in the way of your enjoyment of the Match-3 puzzles.

Moreover, there are no slide puzzles book-ending each section. These weren't always mandatory before anyway, but they always felt a little pointless. Shifting the focus back to the most important element (the Match-3 gameplay) means the overall experience is better in terms of pace and flow.

In terms of difficulty, Jewel Master Atlantis 3D is surprisingly tough in places. In addition to collecting resources, completing a stage requires you to swap tiles over blue sections of the board. Once these are gone, and you've hit the minimum threshold for resources, the stage ends. Of course, this isn't as simple as it sounds; certain tiles are locked with chains, and require an extra one or two matches to be removed.

To assist with these more challenging situations, there are a number of power-ups at your disposal. These vary quite drastically in terms of usefulness. For example, the first power-up only removes a single tile, but as you progress, you get your hands on time extension bonuses and bombs that clear a large chunk of the board. However, you have to earn these power-ups by also matching three or more of a certain type of tile. Therefore, it adds a great deal of strategy or the game, as you have to wisely time your usage. Another nice feature is the option to add more time the next time round, should you fail a puzzle. This is a very welcome feature, as on some puzzles the time limit seems a little tight, and this provides just enough breathing room, without making the game seem too easy. Not only that but after already spending 15 to 20 minutes on a puzzle, you really don't want to have to attempt it multiple times over.

Unfortunately, the transition to 3DS hasn't resulted in any substantial improvements in the visual department. The higher resolution provides a much clearer display for the player, but the presentation is ever so bland. Special effects are minimal, and the 3D serves no real purpose during gameplay. It does technically enhance the brief animations between levels, but they're hardly the most exciting thing to watch in the first place. This is an area where the game really falters; the market is flooded with Match-3 games, and utilising the system's power would have really helped to set this title apart from the rest.

Conclusion

Although Jewel Master Atlantis 3D lacks the production values you'd expect to see from a 3DS title, it's still a reasonably entertaining game. Those that have played previous titles in the series will likely appreciate the heavier focus on the core match-3 gameplay experience and other gameplay improvements. It is worth noting, however, that the "3D" in the title is perhaps a tad overemphasised given how it has been incorporated in such a minimal way. If you're a fan of the genre and are looking for a new puzzle fix, then Jewel Master Atlantis 3D might just be worth your time and money.

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User Comments (7)

BenAV

#2

BenAV said:

This is one of those titles that I might download just for something to pass the time if it comes out while there's not much else to play.
In this case though, there are already way too many good games to play that'll keep me occupied for a very long time, so I'll be giving it a pass.

Mowzle

#3

Mowzle said:

I did get this game and have just started to play it. I was pleasantly surprised, and agree with the review. Match three games aren't everyone's taste, but this one is pleasant on the eye and functions well.
The welcome option of adding extra time in Adventure mode which appears between levels after several have been played is useful, and allows for some adjustments to suit individual players. This seems to be on top of "buying" extra time using bonus points during a level that is proving difficult.
However, I play this sort of game for relaxation and do like an option to consider my strategy at leisure, so I was a little annoyed that even the levels which open up for replay in Relax mode are timed. It's useful to know what my times are, but I hate being rushed to complete a level I've chosen to replay.
This game is priced at about one third of a retail cerasus.media match three game in the UK, so if it has an equivalent number of levels it is good value.
Many thanks for the comprehensive review, Martin.

rayword45

#5

rayword45 said:

This is the kind of game I'd much rather play on my phone then a two screen device.

Koapa

#6

Koapa said:

Price point is good. If it has more 3D effect, I download it intermediately. Match 3 game is fun, even if it doesn´t seem so.

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