Build a city by matching three…
Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 from Rising Star Games brings the popular match three puzzle game to the 3DS for casual gamers to enjoy. Take a journey back to ancient Rome and rebuild the Empire by simply shuffling symbols on a grid to match three or more identical symbols together, making them disappear. Cradle of Rome 2 comes with three different game modes to choose from; Adventure, Tourney and Blitz.
Surely everyone knows how the match three games work by now? Players are presented with a grid, often of differing sizes or shape, which is filled with symbols. By clicking a symbol, the player is able to swap it with any adjacent symbol, with the hope of lining up groups of three or more matching symbols, which results in the matched symbols disappearing and the remaining symbols all shuffling down to fill the gaps.
In Cradle of Rome 2’s Adventure mode, the symbols on the grid represent, amongst other things, resources and the player is challenged to rebuild the city of Rome through five epochs by gathering enough resources to create certain buildings. As each building is finished, the player will receive various bonuses.
At the beginning of each level, the player is presented with the grid and tasked with not only gathering resources, but completing the level within a time limit. Within the grid will be squares that do not match the regular background colour, and completing the level will mean making a match over all of these coloured squares to return them to normal colour. Once these coloured squares have been removed, the level will be completed and the player can move on to the next.
As Rome starts to take shape and buildings are completed, the player will gain access to certain bonus tools. Each bonus tool has a special ability, such as being able to gain some extra time when the hourglass tool is activated, to firing up the lightning bolt, which will destroy fifteen random tiles at once. These tools have to be charged up though by matching the relevant tiles on the grid. Once they have been used, the player will have to charge them up again.
Some symbols will be chained up on the grid, and cannot be moved. With these symbols, if no bomb is available to remove them, the player will have to manipulate the symbols around the tile to make a match, which will then remove the chain and allow the symbol to be used as normal.
The game begins relatively simply, but as you get further into creating your city, things get more challenging as more complex grid shapes are revealed and different symbols included. For example, skulls can appear on the grid and if the player accidentally matches those up, more coloured tiles are added, giving the player more to do and wasting precious time. Whilst the objective is to clear the coloured blocks and collect the required resources, it is quite easy to become sidetracked and just continue matching up any old symbol.
In between the match three puzzle action, the player will get a slight break in the form of a sliding picture puzzle. These quick puzzles don’t really have any great entertainment value and serve just as a distraction from the main game. But there is the option to skip these puzzles.
The other two modes available in the game are Tourney Mode and Blitz Mode. In Tourney the player can basically access each previously played level from the Adventure mode and try to earn a bronze, silver or gold trophy. Blitz Mode is an endless mode which challenges the player to get as far as possible before the time runs out, through three difficulty levels.
The 3D effect in Cradle of Rome 2 is incredibly minimal and consists only of the scenes shown in the top screen, which have absolutely no bearing on the gameplay. They are nice to look at, but add nothing at all to the game.
Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 is a relaxing match three game for the casual market. It is not the most exciting concept and doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, but it doesn’t do anything wrong either. If matching three is your particular choice in gaming and you are desperate for some match three action on your 3DS, then this is the game for you. Otherwise, it is worth looking at if you need a break from more taxing games, but don’t expect the match three action to take over your life.