Jewel Next – Review
Nice graphics; Wide audience: competitive and non-competitive players.
Could do without the permanent help.
The game needs a proper introduction when you play the first time to avoid the wrong expectation with the classic mode.
Jewel Next HD Review
The word “classic” is now used for almost anything in order to give depth to things which are brand new. Films become “classic” within 2 weeks. Some products are branded “classic” before even being available thanks to the marketing department hard work.
There are some video games that have this “classic” attribute because they have been around and successful for quite a while. One says that we can measure the success of something by the amount of copies made of the original. In fact these “copies” are more like a tribute to the original. Some games have therefore been very successful. Maybe the oldest in this category is Breakout, the brick breaker. We have reviewed recently an offshoot of Breakout with Sketchpad Escape. But if the brick breaker is now a “classic” there is another good example of a successful game so often imitated: Bejewel.
Today we will review a tribute to Bejewel: Jewel Next by Vincent Victoria. Let’s get started and see what Vincent Victoria have done with the Bejewel concept! We review, the universal HD version for iPhone and iPad.
What is Jewel Next?
Jewel Next is a puzzle game. It offers to the player a screen full of various jewels. The player will move jewels by swapping places with other jewels next the the selected one. Once moved, if the jewel is next to at least 2 other jewels of the same shape and colour, the group disappears and new jewels appear instead.
Jewel Next is a surprising game. After my first contact with the game, I was puzzled (pun kind of intended) by it. I was expecting challenge, strategy, frustration, rewards, try and retry, etc. Instead, Jewel Next’s main game mode is all about investigation, surprises and cool casual gaming. It took me a long time to figure it out but it is now making sense. To cut the chase I’ll tell you all you need to know about how to play Jewel Next.
But before going into details, there is one very important thing you need to know about Jewel Next: this game is not about destroying bunches of jewels on screen. Well, not really. It is about combining jewels in order to create new ones. This is a very essential difference with the usual Bejewel series.
Two main game modes
The “Classic” mode and “Family” mode are all about creating new jewels with the ones currently on the board. The key thing about these modes is that you just cannot loose. As surprising as it sounds, the aim is to create new jewels and nothing really stops you from doing so. As soon as the board on screen makes it impossible or even simply too hard to create new combinations, a new board is presented to you. It took me a while to figure it out. When you find a new jewel, thanks to a swap you never did before, you are rewarded with a new jewel in your collection. When you have created the same jewel enough times, you are rewarded with a star on it.
This mode is making sense if you think of the game with a non-hardcore gamer mind. For instance, my (now famous) 7 years old daughter had fun playing this game. She was not after any frustration of loosing like I was. She played the game and enjoyed the new jewels, even coming to me with them on screen for me to admire. “Look dad what I did!”
The difference between classic and family modes is that family is even easier, with smaller boards. The point is to simply have fun on screen while having a bit of a chase of combinations.
The other 2 modes are “Puzzle” and “Blitz”. It is in these modes that the traditional gamers will finds their fix. As the names make you guess, in these modes you do have a challenge in front of you. There, you will loose!
In puzzle mode you play until you cannot play anymore. The board is not replaced when things get tough. And things get tough because when you happen to create a new kind of jewel, the possibilities get reduced (the more types of jewels on the board, the less chances to have the same type adjacent.)
In Blitz mode, you play against the clock.
In both modes, the goal is to score more each time.
Jewel Next’s gameplay is therefore a rather complete one with two drastically different but complementary game plays: one is purely casual fun when the other is competitive.
Vincent Victoria have added a nice possibility to the game that I never saw anywhere else before: the ability to keep moving jewels while the board is refilled after a previous move. So, basically, you make a move, it destroys some jewels, create a new one and possibly look for combos. While this is done, you can still play and switch jewels. I really liked that possibility as it creates a hell of an action on screen and real high scores. Well thought!
There is one thing I found irritating though: it is the far too fast help that appears on screen when you are thinking about your next move. In order for the player to not get stuck too easily, a little hand is showing on screen what you could do. If I found that nice for my first 5 moves, I found it very annoying afterwards. I would recommend allowing the player to turn that help off in a next version of the game.
While I am at it, there is another modification I would ask for. In the current state, the move of a jewel is final as soon as you have moved it half the way. The natural expectation with the current iOS is that the move is final only when one releases the finger. This is not the case here and I got caught a few times, willing to move back as I found a better move half way through. Jewel Next does not allow to come back while moving. I would like that.
Graphic Design and Fx
Jewel Next is visually pleasant. The animations are well done and the music is also nice and cool. No problem here. Good job!
This game is offering fun for various types of players as we have seen in the Gameplay section. When I eventually got the point about the non-competitive “Classic” mode and the challenging “Puzzle” mode, I did have fun. What I did not really have was “addiction” and the urge to get back to the game. In a way, it is nice to not be stuck in front of the screen. Jewel Next is very much on the casual, cool side of the gaming world. This might very well be a big plus if you want to offer a game to your child.
Nothing to signal: all worked absolutely fine for me for the few hours I have tried the game. Never had a problem with it. Bug free.
VicentVictoria has created a nice sequel to the Bejewel genre. They have managed to not simply copy the gameplay as many are tempted to do but they have added a nice twist of their own, creating a cooler, more casual game. They also have created a game appealing to a wider audience. This is a nice touch.
Vincent Victoria’s Interview
What’s in an App?