|Title: Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D
Publisher: Rising Star Games
Developer: cerasus.media GmbH
Release Date: Oct 17, 2013
Platforms: DS, 3DS
Age Rating: Everyone
Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D is a match-three puzzle game for the 3DS. It’s the latest port of a series that started on the DS (it is itself a port of the DS game, Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2). Is it any good? Well, let’s take a look.
Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D borrows a lot from Bejeweled. And that’s not a problem. If you’re going to borrow, you should borrow from the best, and Bejeweled is one of the best in the puzzle game genre, right up there with Tetris. However, there’s one important difference: each board is specially designed, rather than just an endless puzzle. Your goal is to take Egypt from a new civilization to building the Statue of Ra. To do this, you’ll match three tiles to take out the red squares on the board in an allotted time limit. The tiles you match will obtain resources, which you will use to build buildings, which unlock bonuses and more valuable tiles, until you clear 100 levels and build the Statue of Ra. There’s no real plot, other than that.
First things first: the 3D in the title is so uninteresting and unusable that it’s not even worth trying. The meat of the game takes place on the bottom screen, and uses touch screen controls. The only reason to look at the top screen is to see your current resource numbers (which you’ll only need to look at to see if you can build something yet), leaving the 3D to show a vaguely Egyptian background in 3D. Save your battery life for this game. Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Pokémon X/Y doesn’t use the 3D effect much, and Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor Overclocked is also a port of a DS game with no 3D effects, and both are great games. However, Devil Survivor Overclocked offers new content that justifies its place as a new game. Jewel Master Cradle of Egypt 2 3D does not. If you buy a copy of the DS game, you’ll get the exact same experience, which is to this game’s detriment.
The music is mediocre at best. I thought it was fine to begin with, but I found it grating after a few hours of listening to it. Thank goodness you can turn it off. At least the sound effects are inoffensive.
The game also does not teach the player well. I went through at least ten puzzles before I realized that I needed to clear the red panels from the board. The game also doesn’t tell you that to use the special bonuses they give you – you need to charge them up first by matching three of the corresponding tiles first. So, if you decide to pick up the game, you’ll have that edge on me.
Obviously, the game is very easy to clear in the early levels (since I could do it without understanding how I was clearing them), with the challenge ramping up as the game progresses, as any good puzzle game should do. However, a few badly designed puzzles move the difficulty more towards cheap, instead of challenging. Consider the locked tiles shown above. As you can see, it blocks tiles from moving further down the board. To take them out, you have to match three tiles above it. Put those too high on the board, and the player needs to keep matching tiles, hoping to get lucky, since the tiles generated after a set is matched is random (or use a bonus that unlocks the tile). Now, that’s not to say it doesn’t work. Actually, the controls work quite well, and when the game isn’t cheap, it’s as enjoyable as ever to match three tiles, and see them disappear. And a big chain reaction is always fun to watch. That’s as true here as it is in Bejeweled.
And, on the subject of bonuses, I’ve got some complaints about them too. Now, a “bonus” is a power-up essentially (take a look above to see what they do). That said, they’re not all useful in all situations, or, in some cases, at all. Take the hourglass. Its job is to give you more time, which sounds useful. However, in any situation that you’ll want to use a bonus, simply adding time will not actually help, and will, instead, just put off the inevitable (restarting the level). Since each tile generated is random, it is highly unlikely that you will actually get the set you need to complete the board when you need it. You’ll only get one kind of bonus per board (such as an hourglass in a situation described above), so you’ll have to restart the board if you don’t like the bonus you were given. Sometimes bonuses are the only way to complete a board on time, and if the bonus you have doesn’t help with that, you’ll have to restart.
Now I did enjoy the game intermittently, but I have to wonder, is this worth the full retail price ($29.99) ? Well, for one thing, it’s just the DS game, which you can easily get for $10-$15 at this point. And, although I spent nearly 30 hours playing, I didn’t get a special sense of accomplishment when I finished. It is usually inoffensive, and passes the time, but, if that’s all you’re looking for in a puzzle game, you can probably get a better deal elsewhere.
Review copy provided by publisher.
This review is based on the 3DS version of the game.