OG International has delivered a number of original games at budget prices for the Nintendo DS family, many of which were titles which have since been imitated by a number of different publishers. Their latest release however, Jewel Time Deluxe, is a title which flips this rule on its head, single-handedly proving that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.
Jewel Time Deluxe is a fairly shameless reiteration of PopCap Games’ hugely successful Bejeweled series, in everything from the power-ups to the speech samples given upon making a large sequence of matches. The gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who’s every sampled PopCap Games’ multi-million seller, but does present a few new ideas for the now classic formula.
Using the stylus on the Nintendo DS touchscreen, players must tap or swipe two adjacent jewels in order to match identical groups of three. Moves can only be made when they result in a match, and creating matches of more than three jewels will create special gems of varying effects. The basic gameplay sees the player on a time limit which increases slightly with each basic match and significantly with each chain. Upon making the required amount of matches, the player moves on to a new level.
Jewel Time Deluxe’s greatest strength lies in the variety of gameplay modes available. The Arcade, Time Attack, Free Play and Classic modes will be familiar to any Match-3 puzzle gamer, by Gravity Twist and Isolation are an entirely different experience. Gravity Twist alters the direction new gems come into play from after making a match (denoted by the direction the background scrolls in). Isolation mode adds an increasing amount of vortexes to the grid every level. These vortexes are fine on their own, can be moved around and will cause a small, helpful explosion if a match is made adjacent to them. However, should the vortexes ever come into contact, it’s game over.
The presentation of Jewel Time Deluxe is rather basic, with very simple jewel designs and some basic special effects. It’s far from offensive, but given the vivid depiction offered by the Bejeweled series, it’s easy to consider Jewel Time Deluxe somewhat lacking. The sound quality follows the same path as the visuals: entirely inoffensive, but hardly noteworthy.
Having launched last week, Jewel Time Deluxe isn’t about to set the UK sales charts alight. It’s an enjoyable and familiar gameplay experience offered at a budget price. It’s not a game that’s out to redefine Match-3 Puzzle games, and it’s not going to knock PopCap Games’ confidence in the Bejewled franchise. It does however, provide a rewarding package in every respect that it promises, and for that few could argue that Jewel Time Deluxe accomplishes everything it sets out to do.