DS Review: Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome

Is this a gem worth playing?

Welcome to the birth of the Roman Empire where players re-create the legendary city of old using a unique variation of the much-loved Match-3 puzzle mechanic. Players still swap two adjacent squares around to create a row of three or more, but instead of completing the board as quickly as possible, the goal is to gather as many resources as you can before the timer runs out. The more resources you gather, the faster you can build Rome. Start with a lowly saw mill and progress to gain access to historical monuments such as the Arch of Titus, the Temples of Venus and Saturn and eventually the mighty Coliseum.

A vast array of bonus tools adds even more incentive to continue the game for as long as possible. Unlocking these tools not only makes clearing the board easier, but also increases the opportunity to gather more resources, gold and treasure!

Puzzles games and the DS go hand in hand; they’ve always been widely popular. Although it can be tough for a newer game to break the mould or the genre, can Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome accomplish that?

Well not quite, it’s very similar to Jewel Quest which isn’t a bad thing but it doesn’t try to do anything that different to distance itself from it. Essentially you match 3 objects to make them vanish and bring some more in; the object is to get rid of certain blocks that are helpfully coloured blue. Once all of them are gone, the stage ends. But the game has a few interesting things up its sleeve to add replay value to what is a simplistic game.

The first thing is that money you earn in puzzles can be used to buy properties like a temple, saw mill and so on. But getting enough requires several replays to afford them, then there are the bonuses to the actual puzzles like a power meter that when filled will allow you to use a tool that will help you clear the board. Sadly that’s as far as variety goes, the levels all have different layouts and become increasingly challenging as you progress…but it never feels that different.

The game isn’t helped either by the lack of any multiplayer mode, which would have been great. To race against a friend to finish a stage might have added a bit more replay value to the package, but alas it’s not included. Instead you get a rather meaty 100 levels to delve into and 20 structures to build with the money earned. It’s a solid game, but it lacks originality as Jewel Quest is practically the same game…minus the tools and structure buying.

The game is very simple to look at and doesn’t push the DS far in terms of performance. The jewels are very small and sometimes the stylus doesn’t recognise which jewel you are touching, it can be a bit problematic at times, but it’s nothing that will hinder your experience. Audio is very basic and quite disappointing.

The Verdict

Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome is an incredibly simple game that sadly takes all Jewel Quest has to offer and gives nothing back. It can be fun, but the lack of multiplayer and variety makes this one far too simple and not enough substance.