Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Jewel Link Chronicles: Legend of Athena

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

            The Nintendo DS system could not be described as lacking on the Match-3 front with seemingly more than enough titles to satisfy the market. However, it seems that the popularity of this genre dictates that there is always room for one more, with developers still churning out new releases periodically. One such recent release is Jewel Link Chronicles: Legend of Athena from Avanquest Software Publishing, also responsible for the popular and extensive Jewel Quest series, and developed by cerasus.media. With so many Match-3 titles available for the Nintendo DS, it could be assumed that any new title would need to be unique in order to have a demand. However, there is little variation, aside from perhaps theme, amongst many of these titles, so the question is what exactly does Jewel Link Chronicles: Legend of Athena have to offer?

            Jewel Link Chronicles: Legend of Athena consists of two parts; players are required to complete a series of Match-3 puzzles and in doing so they acquire the materials to construct ancient buildings. The Match-3 puzzles involve matching rows of three or more of the same symbol by swapping adjacent tiles by dragging them with the stylus- simple enough. However, players also have the added challenge of matching sets of symbols over designated blue slabs in order to destroy them. Once all the slabs have been obliterated a blue orb, otherwise known as the Orb of Tyche, the Goddess of Fate appears on the board. Players must drag the orb to the edge of the board by matching surrounding symbols, all under a set time constraint.

            The levels become increasing hard as the game progresses, for example some of the symbols on the blue slabs may be chained together requiring players to match up the surrounding tiles to this symbol before the chains can be broken. The shape of the board also changes to make the puzzle more difficult as it becomes more awkward to match three symbols in a line without careful thought and predicting several moves in advance. There are over one hundred levels and players need to complete the level successfully within the given time constraint in order to move on to the next level. The game features an additional Relax Mode in which players can access already played levels from the standard mode again and at random.

            The building component of the game dictates that an added amount of thought is required in the puzzles. Rather than just matching random symbols as players progress through the levels they can acquire valuable tools and gold in order to construct ancient buildings such as the Theatre of Dionysus to build a metropolis based on Ancient Greece by matching specific icons. Different icons represent different resources, for example matching the gold coins allows players to acquire money and the more icons you match the more you acquire. Along with building a mini metropolis, players also compete against mythological creatures who threaten your endeavours.

            Jewel Link Chronicles: Legend of Athena is undeniably well constructed and graphically it is flawless with beautiful scenery at every level. The story element of the puzzles; the building of ancient buildings and warding off of threatening creatures, is well devised, being both detailed and imaginative. Unfortunately, the time constraints particularly in the latter levels are unrealistically tight and the music, as with so many Nintendo DS games, is tediously repetitive. On the whole, however, the overall package gives the feels that it has evolved as a labour of love- or that, at least, is what the casual observer is led to believe. As it so happens, rather disappointingly, the game is a re-hash of cerasus.media’s previously released, Cradle of Rome, with hardly any differences between the two, the most significant being the geographical location of the city under construction.

            With countless Match-3 games on the market and with little progressive endeavour developmentally Jewel Link Chronicles: Legend of Athena is a small fish in a very large pond, however as previous observation states there is still an audience for this and similar releases of the same ilk. It can only be assumed that the observed popularity is all down to the essential mechanics of the Match-3 puzzle and its compatibility with the Nintendo DS gamer. Match-3 games appeal to all levels of commitment to gaming in so much as it rewards gamers based on how much effort they are willing to put in. The Match-3 game can satisfy gamers who are after a challenge and revel in completing each and every puzzle in the fastest time possible, whilst also offering less committed gamers an easy way to mindlessly pass the time on a daily commute. It doesn’t matter, therefore, that Jewel Link Chronicles: Legend of Athena is practically identical to its predecessors as its genre will almost certainly find an audience on this and any future generation of consoles and as a representative of its genre on the Nintendo DS it is nothing short of exemplary.


















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