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Publisher: iWin    Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4

Jewel Quest III
October 1, 2008 | Michael Scarpelli

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It's a stately affair.
Jewel Quest III is, you guessed it, the third in the Jewel Quest series. You’re two for two now, because the game is exactly what you think: a jewel-swapping, tile-matching, casual-gaming juggernaut.

What you might not expect is likely the same thing that caught me by surprise. I won’t lie, this is version two of this review and the first version was very different. The score for the game was probably going to end up a full point lower than what it is now. What magical discovery did I make? Tournament mode. Why did it take me so long to discover it? Well, let’s just say you can make your user interface too subtle sometimes. But enough teasing, let’s get down to…

Nuts and Bolts
Jewel Quest is a game about matching jewels together to clear space on a game-grid that comes in varying shapes and sizes. Many jewel games are played simply by matching and matching and matching until a certain point total or quota is reached. Jewel Quest changes this formula slightly by having every match made over a fresh square of the game board change that piece of the board to gold. The goal is to make matches that involve every single square on the board to turn the entire thing gold.

This makes the game both slightly more interesting (note the “slightly”) and more frustrating than your average matching game. Your tile-switching is more focused because you have an objective to achieve on the board other than simply for its own sake, but the inherent randomness of the appearance of new pieces to match can make for some maddening stalemates with the board. It’s possible that you simply will not get the piece you need to make the match in that hard-to-reach corner… and it is bitter to lose a level despite the fact that you are making steady matches the entire time.

Jewel Quest III includes some gameplay variants that change things up a bit as you go along. There is a sort of versus mode where you and a computer opponent take turns and strive to be the first to turn a certain number of board squares gold, and there are modes where the gamer must obtain a certain number of coins, or must direct fire blocks to connect with ice blocks to thaw portions of the board.

However, compared to most casual games on the market, Jewel Quest sort of feels like a plodding march rather than a freewheeling jaunt. The game is very trim on bells and whistles. Whereas many casual games, especially of this type, spice up the action with flashy graphics and big combos and bonus items and all sorts of other fanciness. Jewel Quest III is so spartan as to even have trimmed out a score for each level, a bit of feedback that I actually found myself missing pretty quickly.

Each stage in the game only involves a single type of level, and consists of 8 boards to play through. However, all the boards seem to be of roughly equal difficulty level and can be approached in any order the gamer pleases. There’s a time limit for each level portrayed in a pretty easy to overlook slider at the bottom of the screen. The gameplay is spare and basic and never really seems to fly by, though it is well enough crafted.

And then I made a glorious discovery…


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