Folks who can’t get enough of item switching puzzle games will enjoy Jewel Quest II, the sequel to the highly popular Jewel Quest. Like its predecessor, in Jewel Quest II, you are presented with a board full of colorful gems, and the objective is to match three or more gems horizontally or vertically before time runs out. As gems are removed, more appear from the top. The board is cleared when each tile has been turned into gold. You start out with five lives, and although you don’t have to return to the very beginning once they’re used up, your score resets to 0 as you restart that level.
Choose to play single player (Quest mode) or engage in skirmishes with online opponents (Tournament mode). Quest mode is composed of five stages, each with five levels. Similar to the original Jewel Quest, the story in Jewel Quest II is an Indiana Jones-like adventure that follows a man named Rupert on his journey into the wild, all the while obsessing over precious gems. As each level is completed, you receive a piece of a special item such as a map, and a page from Rupert’s diary is revealed. Although I’ve only played through the first two stages, so far I haven’t found any importance in the items or diary entries, other than it furthers the storyline.
At higher levels, you encounter obstacles and tougher boards. Higher-level boards come in various shapes with tricky corners that easily trap gems. Some gems start appearing half-buried, which are immovable and must match twice – once to free it from the rubble, and again to get rid of it from the board. The trickiest obstacles I’ve encountered so far are gems that are so completely buried that you can’t see their color. Therefore, eliminating them from the board is a three-step process since you have to first figure out what color they are, which takes some time-consuming trial and error. Fortunately, you have a little help on your side. Match gold coins to earn special moves, but use them sparingly since the coins don’t appear often. Also, you gain an extra life for every 50,000 points that you earn.
Jewel Quest II is really fun and addictive. It’s not that much different from its predecessor, except that the graphics are nicer. The harder levels contain just the right amount of difficulty. You may get a bit frustrated when your time runs out, but then you’ll want to restart and give it another shot. I think that the Indiana Jones storyline is kind of silly since it’s really unnecessary to the game, but it’s not a big deal. Once you start getting a hang of the game, see how good you really are by playing in Tournament mode. Who knows – you might just run into me there!
Jewel Quest II is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.