"Familiar because itís been seen before. Familiar because there are fourteen puzzle games released on the DS for any other genre and familiar because Jewel Quest has already been seen on XBLA and won the internet over when initially released by IWin.com online. Familiar doesnít always mean bad."
Rupert Pack is an unhappy guy. His girl, Emma Swimmingly, has betrayed his trust and left him for a man with more wealth and less lingering angst, so he dons his replica Indiana Jones hat and steals away onboard a cargo ship headed to deepest Africa. Or something. Thereís an odd tale that Jewel Quest: Expeditions wants to tell, one about discovering the mysteries of a jewel board by scourging African market places for golden Zulu masks to appease a shipís captain for half-hearted swabbing; events made all the weirder by the fact you do nothing of the sort.
The uninspired story may tell you via static cut-outs and stuffy text bubbles that youíre bartering for moss-incrusted artefacts, or debating your worth to receive closely-guarded secrets from scarred tribesmen, but youíre not. Youíre playing a familiar puzzle game.
Familiar because itís been seen before. Familiar because there are fourteen puzzle games released on the DS for any other genre and familiar because Jewel Quest has already been seen on XBLA and won the internet over when initially released by IWin.com online.
Familiar doesnít always mean bad.
Imagine a grid. Give the grid a random shape and fill it with jewels of differing colours. As ancient puzzle laws that predate human existence command, a trio of jewels of the same hue placed in a direct line will cease to exist, allowing the jewels above them to cascade after losing their foundation. New jewels drop in from the top, and youíre challenged to nuke them, too. Your goal in this incarnation is simple: every grid block you manage to spontaneously combust a jewel in turns gold. Turn the entire grid gold before your time limit expires or lose.
Special blocks will start being added to the fray as the levels climb in challenge. Jewels buried in solid rock will be littered around the screen, forcing you to free them up with a chain reaction matching the same hue as the trapped piece. Thatís when you can see them; sometimes, these gems are completely obscured, and youíll need to offset different colour-coordinated attacks before you can chip off enough rock to see what youíre up against. Even the jewels themselves start to get diluted with new items such as Aztec masks and gargoyle skulls, making combos all the harder to track down.
Also mixed in there are solid gold coins. Manage to line three of these up in a row and youíre given the ability to nuke any given square you please with a prod of your stylus. You can save this special power and use it whenever you please with a quick nudge of the shoulder button.
While the kooky story of a heartbroken man throwing himself into an adventure to try and forget the woman who wronged him is played out jerkily in the background, itís the familiar puzzle that will have you scything through all 180 boards in the story mode before you even know youíve started. Thereís a certain level of addictiveness that all good puzzles games have thatís hard to put into words, but, handily, I donít need to. Because youíve played Tetris or Bust-a-Move or something of the ilk and you know exactly what I mean. Jewel Quest: Expeditions is never going to win prizes for originality but itís a fun game that youíll sink hours into and always come away wanting more. Thereís not a great deal more you can ask for.
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