As I enjoy puzzle games, I was looking forward to spending some time with the 3DS version of Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2. Sometimes there’s a lot of fun to be had in brain teasers that require a bit of strategy. Unfortunately, I have been less than impressed.
The game has been updated to take advantage of the 3D capabilities of the 3DS, but the additions mainly amount to static artwork while the main gameplay takes place on the lower, touch-sensitive screen. The 3D effect is well done for what it is: a piece of artwork. But it adds nothing to the gameplay. Rising Star Games needs to take a look at how the effect was done in Pushmo and Ketzal’s Corridors.
The main gameplay is the standard “match three” fare, with the ability to charge fireballs or bombs to destroy blocks. With a timer counting down on every board, you will need to decide if you ware going to build up those special tools or race to clear the board’s requirements. There are various challenges you’ll need to overcome to pass the levels; on some levels you have to make two or three matches on a square to clear it. You can do this by making the requisite number of matches on it, or you can use one of the aforementioned power-ups.
The game’s difficulty seems to ramp up suddenly and without warning, and then it will drop off to very easy levels. You’ll be faced with challenges that make you strategize and plan your matches two and three moves ahead, and then you’ll have a board that has no requirements to beat. And then you will hit a wall; I have been stuck at level 26 for more than a week, attempting to clear it multiple times in a sitting, and have failed so far.
Up to this point, the game has been a somewhat amusing way to spend a few minutes here or there. The music was forgettably ambient, and the 3D effects didn’t add anything to the gameplay, but the experience itself was mostly fun. However, the wildly varying difficulty levels are a problem that shouldn’t have gotten past the QA stage of testing.
It’s quite possible that you’ll have more luck than I have, and you’ll blow past the level 26 wall. If you do, let me know what you did and I’ll revisit this. For now, though, I’ll give Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 an unimpressive 5/10. It doesn’t stink, but it isn’t stunning, either.