Thanks to PlayEveryWare for the review code
Title: Jewel Quest
System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: 03/10/2016
The main game/story
In this match three puzzle game, you match gems around to illuminate the boards of each level, in order to make everything turn to gold! That’s pretty much the entire game, and there’s practically no story to speak of, or at least, none that I could notice during my playtime.
In terms of visuals, Jewel Quest is barebones at best. The main focus is on the playing board, which you think would have a bit of a nice design to make it easy on the eyes. (Similar to games like Bejeweled for instance) Unfortunately, the board is really nothing to write home about, with bland tiles for the just as bland jewels to fall on, it seems like it was hastily thrown together. Ironically, the backgrounds of each stage look rather impressive, with well drawn backgrounds that change depending on the stage.
Sadly, those backgrounds are the only positive I could find with the visuals. Everything else just seems bland or generic, and even the interface isn’t anything to write home about, as you simply choose a level and you’re already playing the game, no fancy menus, no fancy transitions, nothing. The only thing that I found remotely amusing interface-wise was the timer, which is a tongue that slowly retracts backwards as the timer decreases, which is a cute touch.
Music and Sound
The soundtrack in this game is equally as forgettable, with generic “epic quest of heroism” music that could theoretically fit in any game trying to take itself seriously. Thankfully, you can mute it using a small button to the right of the board during gameplay, so you can just focus on clearing each of the levels.
Considering the fact that this is a match three puzzler, it’s very easy to know what to expect; match three jewels of the same color to eliminate them from the board, rinse and repeat to get a higher score for more stars. Thankfully, the stages in Jewel Quest focus on a solid objective that you must complete in order to clear the stage, and that’s by clearing jewels from EVERY tile of the board at least once. Any cleared tile will turn gold, which pretty much means you have to find a way to strategically move jewels around in order to bathe the board in gold, which during the first few levels of the game, actually gave me an incentive to keep trying harder to complete it as fast as possible. Overall, the pacing seemed good, that is, until I reached one of the first, bigger boards in the game.
You see, the time limit tends to go by fast, and since these boards get bigger as the game progresses, with more complicated placements that you need to clear, this can make some levels infuriatingly difficult. Thankfully, you do get introduced to a handy powerup that appears in some stages, which appears in the form of a gold coin. Match three of these and you’ll gain one “Midas Touch” which allows you to choose a tile to turn to gold without having to match jewels there. This is a godsend in these bigger levels, though there are still some levels where coins won’t show up at all. This unfortunately causes the game to sometimes turn into a game of luck, where strategy will have zero impact on how to clear the level due to the placement of the jewels, usually making a level nearly impossible. While this sort of cheap level design is common in free to play games, this is a paid game, which more or less turns it into an irritating inconvenience that slows the game down considerably and made me lose interest before long.
In conclusion, Jewel Quest is an incredibly lackluster puzzle game that really does nothing to make it unique or fun, with bland visuals, bland music, and infuriating difficulty spikes. While there IS Miiverse support built in, it doesn’t add anything to the experience and isn’t really worth using unless you want to show off your high score for a level. There are 72 levels, which for the price tag of $5 is a fair amount, but when the majority of the game is spent being either bored to death or infuriated due to a sudden difficulty spike that makes the game entirely luck based, I really can’t recommend Jewel Quest to even the most hardcore of puzzle fans. There’s nothing in this game that screams “MUST BUY”, there’s nothing remotely engaging or fun about it, and the random difficulty spikes just add to the frustration. For the same price, you could buy nearly any NES Virtual Console title, most of which offer superior experiences for high score fans. That doesn’t even take into account the many other cheaper games available on the eShop as a whole, like Gunman Clive HD Collection, which offers plenty of content for a great price, while also managing to be an engaging yet fair game. I give Jewel Quest a 2 out of 10, and really can’t recommend it to anyone in its current state.