Review: Jewel Master Egypt (Nintendo DS)

Jewel Master Egypt
Developer: Storm City Games
Publisher: Storm City Games
Genre: Puzzle
Release Date: 11/03/09

Jewel Master: Egypt is pretty much just Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 1,300 miles southeast. Done and done.

All right! On to the short attention span summary, and I’m out of here!

Ow! Lucard, stop hitting me!

Review standard what?

Fine. . . I’ll write more.

1. Story/ Modes
You are god or the pharaoh or something and it is your job to advance Egyptian civilization from a bunch of tents until, presumably, they are a bunch of Stargate folks. The only way for civilization to evolve is for you to play a tricked out version of Bejeweled.

(For some reason this makes more sense to me than using Sudoku to solve mysteries.)

There are two modes: Play and Relax. Relax mode allows you to replay levels you’ve beaten previously.

2. Graphics
We get some random brown pictures of Egypt and camels and such for the civilization parts. For the Match 3 puzzle game we are presented with tiny, but recognizable, pictures of sticks, coins, apples, rings, or dynamite. Wait. . . Dynamite? What a history lesson we have here folks, ancient Egyptians with sticks of dynamite.

3. Sound/ Music
There is a vaguely Egyptian theme song at the start of the game, and an oddly futuristic soundtrack playing during the levels.

The sound effects are made up of some bloops and bleeps consistent with what one would expect from a puzzle game.

4. Control / Gameplay
Jewel Master Egypt is a fairly standard “Match Three” game. You can flip the positions of items, provided that the flipping causes three like items to be in a row, either vertically or horizontally. Those things subsequently disappear.

The game has a timer represented by a slowly emptying water jug. The goal here is to eliminate all the blue background squares, by eliminating their corresponding foreground items. After all the blue is gone, a scarab appears at the top of the screen. You have to move the scarab to the bottom of the screen before all the water runs out of the water jug.

There are a few special items to distinguish JM:E from other match three games. Occasionally, a chain or two will lock an item such that it can’t be flipped. The chain disappears when a match is created with it’s item. Also, if you clear away enough dynamite, the game gives out a dynamite bonus. This thing can be used to remove a blue square or a chain or what have you.

Clearing out the different items gives you different types of scores. Clearing a row of apples might give you some nourishment points, whereas clearing a column of wood might give you building material points.

Between puzzle rounds are the civilization rounds. Here the game will prompt you to buy tents or spices or grain or camels or dates or Charlton Heston or any number of other things that the Ancient Egyptians needed. You buy these things with your puzzle scores. A particular object might require 1000 points worth of money, 1,500 points of nourishment, and 1,200 points worth of building materials.

You can buy these things, and look at them, but it isn’t particularly fulfilling. The civilization isn’t really customizable. Increasing the level of civilization only has minor effects on the puzzle portion of the game.

The game is controlled with the stylus. This is the sort of gameplay at which the DS excels. I never had a single input problem.

5. Replayabilty
Jewel Master Egypt offers 100 levels, so it takes a lot of time to complete. The game allows you to replay levels with relax mode, and offers a number of different profiles. I don’t imagine these things add much to the replay-ability, though. Your civilization on the second play-through is pretty much going to look exactly like your civilization the first time around. You aren’t allowed to make any adjustments to the game’s difficulty level or stringent time limit.

Ooh, hey; that brings us to:

6. Balance
There is only one level of difficulty; there is no easy or expert mode. The game’s water jug time limit is criminally short and completely unforgiving. It’ll run out with no warning just as I am about to drop the scarab off the bottom of the screen. There is very little time to formulate strategy.

The only mercy this game shows is that it will give you a hint if it notices you haven’t moved any items for some time. These clues shame me, and make me feel stupid.

7. Originality
None, by my estimates.

8. Addictiveness
This game is more addictive than caffeinated internet porn. This game is like a peanut butter and crack sandwich. Instead of just being a mindless office time-waster, this game institutes a punitive timer that cruelly eliminates all the points you just racked up and asks if you want to try again.

Heck, yeah I want to try again! Daddy needs a new pair of camels!

The game coaxes you to play it with its stupid civilization building incentives. “Well, I’ll just play until I can see pyramids or something.” Then before you know it, you’ve just failed at the same level 30 times in a row and you completely spaced on doing that load of laundry.

This game is the devil.

The devil.

9. Appeal Factor
Jewel Master Egypt rates a solid and whole-hearted “meh” in terms of appeal.

I stand by that evaluation.

10. Miscellaneous
It bothers me still that this game has sticks of dynamite in it. Yet, I abused my dynamite privileges. What does that say about me as a person?

I guess, what I am trying to say is I hate this game for exposing my own hypocrisy.

The Scores:

Story/Modes: Bad
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Bad
Control/Gameplay: Very Good
Replayability: Poor
Balance: Decent
Originality: Worthless
Addictiveness: Classic
Appeal: Mediocre
Miscellaneous: Mediocre
Final Score: Mediocre Game

Short Attention Span Summary
Jewel Master: Egypt is pretty much just Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 1,300 miles southeast. (We have come full circle!) For those for whom that means nothing: it’s Bejeweled with a objective and a time limit. It is a great game? No. It’s not even a good game. And yet, it is more addictive than nicotine infused potato chips.

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