Review: Jewel Quest Mysteries
Jewel Quest Mysteries, by Electronic Arts
• Combines puzzle game like bejeweled with hidden picture games
• Seems overly easy at times
• More puzzles or gem-swapping stages needed
Hidden picture games that have come out on the iPhone are lots of fun. The combination of a touch screen and the nice resolution makes for an interesting game. Jewel Quest Mysteries: Curse of the Emerald Tear plays nicely into the genre, also incorporating a simply tile-swapping puzzle game as well.
Now, before I being, I want to clarify something. I could have SWORN that this was originally called Jewel Quest II when I first downloaded it (but never got around to reviewing it). I also could have sworn that there was a different (but similar) Jewel Quest previously, that was just a tile swapping game. But I haven’t found any evidence of it, so perhaps I am going crazy.
In Jewel Quest Mysteries, you are an adventurous explorer, traveling around the ruins of Egypt trying to discover hidden objects, secret gems, and solve tile swapping puzzles in your quest to solve the mystery of the Emerald Tear. In reality, the “mystery” is simply a loosely pierced together plot device, told in a series of book journal entries that unfold as you pass through each level. Personally, I think it would have been much more interesting to incorporate the “mystery” into the game – forcing the player to solve a riddle or puzzle based on the objects he/she has collected.
The game also features a standard tile-swapping style mini game that is played in between each round. As you swap tiles, you turn the game board gold – the tile swapping is finished once the whole game board is gold. This part of the game, along with the hidden objects aspect, is all timed – the clock is always ticking down as you are looking for your object.
There are some special features – you can find gems to help upgrade your skills and abilities (adding more time, adding special help moves, etc). The help moves can be used in either game mode – in the tile swapping game, they turn a piece of the board gold. In the hidden puzzle game they find the next item on your list.
The game can also be played as a multiplayer game. It can be played via wifi or Bluetooth (yay!) and you compete against of companion. This adds a new dimension to the game. Personally, I found this aspect of game play much more enjoyable that simply trying to beat the game time (see my complaints below).
The graphics are nice, and the background music is also very nicely done as well – it really adds to the ambience of the game. However, there are some problems with the game. First off, you visit the same locations multiple times. This wouldn’t be a problem in and of itself, except for the fact that the hidden objects are hidden in the same place each time! If you can remember where something was (even if it wasn’t on your list to find previously) you have an edge.
Along the same lines, I generally found that game too easy. The time limit was nothing to speak of – I could find object and finish the puzzles with plenty of time left over (even with making random mistakes at times). To make matters worse, the “power ups” make the game almost laughably easy – adding extra hints, adding extra time – it makes it so there is no pressure at all!
All in all, this was a fun game that combines tile swapping with hidden pictures, but overall it seemed a little too easy. I really enjoy the hidden picture games, and this one was well designed, but seeing the same hidden objects in the same scenes ruins the mystery of the game. Adding multiplayer is a nice tough, and makes the game more interesting overall. For $0.99, this game is well worth the price (I thought it was worth it when I bought it for $2.99) but don’t expect too much. Three and a half out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.