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The Quest Trio (DS) artwork

The Quest Trio (DS) review


"The puzzles themselves are the driving force behind The Quest Trio. All feature minor variations from the expected, and they roll out dozens of configurations to keep you busy. Just when you think you've figured out the system, a new little wrinkle arises. Can you resist falling to the same obsessions as some of those heroes? With games this addictive, good luck."



Each of the three games in The Quest Trio presents a personal crisis. In Jewel Quest Expeditions, a broken engagement sends fedora-wearing adventurer Rupert Pack on a journey into the dark heart of Africa, armed with only his mysterious jewel board. In Jewel Quest Solitaire, a different Professor Pack has been driven insane trying to unlock the secrets of his exotic card game. And in Mah Jong Quest Expeditions, the entire world has gone mad. A cosmic split has divided every object in two, including a young lad named Kwazi. Only through matching together Chinese tiles can he reunite all the halves.

These plot threads provide interesting backstories, but the puzzles themselves are the driving force behind The Quest Trio. All feature minor variations from the expected, and they roll out dozens of configurations to keep you busy. Can you resist falling to the same obsessions as some of those heroes? With games this addictive, good luck.

Jewel Quest is the origin of the entire franchise, although its own foundation is not entirely original. The game's components are a grid and different colored jewels, and the basic objective is to swap adjacent objects to form a line of at least three matching gems. Those items disappear, gravity takes effect, and the empty spaces are filled in by random replacements from the top of the screen. However, that's just the beginning of Jewel Quest's premise. Here, the cells of the grid that contain a match turn to gold, and the main goal is to convert the whole board to a 24-karat treasure within a limited amount of time. The volume of matches doesn't matter so much as their placement, which adds another layer of strategy. More types of jewels appear as you advance, along with other hindrances. For example, buried jewels must be matched multiple times before they're cleared. Moreover, each subsequent level introduces its own challenge by using a board with a slightly different shape.

Jewel Quest Solitaire also uses the idea of varying layouts, because it's nothing like the Solitaire you would see on your PC. Instead of orderly rows and piles, the cards are arranged in exotic formations; those face down can be overlapped by more than one card. With over a hundred different arrangements, there's no systemic way to proceed. Also, rather than clearing the board by stacking suits on like aces, you only have one active foundation card. Any consecutive cards, regardless of suit, can be placed in this pile. Stringing the made-up suits together (which allows for more than four) just increases your score and helps with the mini-jewel board after each level. Expanding the manner in which cards can be dispatched may seem to make the task easier, but the added freedom just provides more ways to hang yourself. Card counting and sharp thinking are necessary to clear every stage of the game.

Mah Jong Quest Expeditions, too, requires careful analysis of the layout. The ultimate goal is to remove one specific pair of tiles, representing Kwazi's two halves, from the board. These, though, are buried under a pile of other matching pairs. Here's the trick: the fewer tiles you remove before the final pair, the higher your score. You must evaluate how to deconstruct the mound in the most efficient way, but there are some playful obstacles that figure into the decision. Earthquake tiles let you arbitrarily split the pile, uncovering previously inaccessible, and unknown, pieces. Ice tiles will melt when all their sides are exposed to the air. There's even a stage where a monster inhabits the top screen. If you don't make a match within a certain amount of time, he randomly rearranges all the pieces still in play.

It's that willingness to shake things up that keeps things perpetually interesting. Just when you think you've figured out the system, a new little wrinkle arises. Each of these games pack plenty of surprises; they've all stood on their own as separate cartridges. Together they make The Quest Trio an excellent compilation.

Rating: 8/10

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Staff review by Benjamin Woodhouse (January 08, 2010)

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