Jewel Quest is another one of those evergreen PC flash games that has manage to capture the imagination of millions of people worldwide. Just like other hit titles such as Diner Dash and Peggle; Jewel Quest isn’t a hit because it has broken the Video Game mould for a new generation. No instead it has proven that if you can create a fun game that is simple and addictive, people will gladly spend their money on low budget time filler. Some of you may have already played Jewel Quests Mysteries: Curse of the Emerald Tear on your PC in the past, so what would you say if I told you that you can now enjoy Jewel Quest Mysteries on your DS? Well for starters you could say that you’d love a review of Jewel Quest Mysteries for DS, that way your time reading (and my time writing) thus far has not been wasted.
For those that don’t know, the Jewel Quest franchise has been around since 2004 and has already spawned a great number of sequels on different platforms. The one thing that remains constant across all of these games is the match 3 games system which supposedly first appeared in Bejeweled from Popcap games. The basic principle of the game is to reorganise a grid full of disorganised jewels by creating vertical or horizontal rows of 3 or more matching gemstones. Once you create a matching set they disappear from the grid leaving the tiles underneath gold, your job of course is to turn every tile (or cell) of the grid gold before the timer runs out.
Of course that would be easy if it wasn’t for the fact that they make it more difficult than that. Firstly for each row of jewels that disappear, the gaps are immediately filled by the jewels above falling downwards. Not only that but as you progress you’ll get game grids that are unusually shaped, thus making your job of matching harder – secondly combine this with special gems that are sealed in stone and suddenly we have much more of a challenge. One small concession are gold coins which when matched in 3 award you the ability to instantly make one tricky tile turn to gold in an instant, very handy. Unlike previous Jewel Quest games, Curse of the Emerald Tear does bring something different along for the ride. Not only do we have a storyline about two brave explorers searching Egypt for a special emerald, there are also two different hidden object games to contend with, one of which is totally separate from Jewel Quest.
The storyline for the Jewel Quest portion of the game is quite straight forward; you take the role of a pair of brave explorers traveling around Egypt. They are both trying to find the special Emerald Tear Jewel Board that is believed to have healing powers that could possibly save the life of someone they know back home. Ok so it’s a pretty rubbish storyline but you can’t deny that it at least tries to explain why you are constantly shuffling jewels around the place and looking for items in a hidden object scene. Oh hang on; I’ve not explained that portion yet.
If you’ve not played a hidden object game before then don’t worry, the concept is quite simple. You are presented with a picturesque Egyptian scene filled to the brim with all manner of objects, many of them totally non-keeping with the area. I don’t know about you but I don’t remember Tutankhamun having a bright red fire extinguisher buried alongside him in his tomb. You are given a list of twelve items hidden in the scene amongst many others; your job is to locate each of them by tapping them with your stylus. Remember they could be anything from Chess Pieces, Tools, Plants, Food and even animals – totally random stuff. What makes your task even harder is that a good proportion of the items are very well hidden and even camouflaged in the scene and that tapping on the wrong ones will result in a time deduction.
Just as with the other Jewel Quest mode locating three golden coins in the scene will give you a bonus, the chance to have one item’s location highlighted for you. Another aspect to consider is that Jewels are hidden in the areas too, if you collect these you can spend them in the upgrade shop later on. Rather niftily you can purchase some goodies to help you on your quest such as: extra slots to hold even more special rewards after finding those gold coins.
For extra value there is that other hidden object game thrown in as a bonus but this time it’s stepping away completely from the whole Egyptian storyline. The game is called Mysteryville and you are a reporter named Laura who is investigating the case of cats disappearing from the town (Mysteryville). Just like before you will be searching for certain items that appear on a list and tapping on incorrect ones can result in a time penalty. What’s different though is that you’ll meet a series of strange characters in the town who are all suspects in the case. The key to finding clues is helping each villager with a problem which then lets you ask them a few questions before you head onto the next suspect. Sadly you don’t have any real detective part in the investigation; the whole plot is yet another device to give some sort of reason for looking through everyone’s house with your beady eyes.
As you can imagine it’s tricky to rate what is literally three games in one. The basic Jewel Quest match three game plays just like any other which is no bad thing, no silly rules are introduced and if you love the previous titles then you’ll love it equally here. Now if I’m honest I actually preferred the hidden object aspect slightly more, it can be quite frustratingly addictive to hunt for all those cunningly hidden things in the rather nicely hand drawn locations. I can only describe it like going to an Art Museum but actually having fun at the same time.
Mysteryville is a shorter game than the Jewel Quest portion but actually features slightly better artwork; thus better graphics. There are also a few different takes on the hidden object format which varies things a bit, for example on several occasions you’re tasked with finding those hidden objects in a pitch black room with only the help of a torch. Apart from that though, it’s much the same as finding the items in Egypt, well except that the item detection is sometimes skewwhiff in Mysteryville and sometimes you’ll need to repeatedly tap on a hidden object three or four times for it to be registered as found, very frustrating. But considering that is the only real negative on what is already a budget priced game I can’t really complain that much. Overall each part of the game is fun and has its own addictive charm, none of them will entertain you forever like the classic puzzle game Tetris can, but honestly, what other game has stood the test of time as long as Tetris anyway.
Jewel Quest Mysteries for Nintendo DS scores a rather good 7 out of 10 but I’d like to see some sort of multiplayer mode in the next Jewel Quest DS title to extend the fun.
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Related: Jewel Master Cradle of Rome review