Jewel Quest Solitaire (Nintendo DS) Review

By Shane Jury 16.08.2009

Review for Jewel Quest Solitaire on Nintendo DS

First popping up on PCs back in 2004, iWin's Jewel Quest drew visual inspiration from the distinct look of a certain whip-wielding adventurer's films, and delivered a somewhat basic, but fun puzzler that eventually made it to mobile phones and Xbox Live Arcade. Now the series is appearing on the world's favourite handheld with one of the most well-known playing card games under its banner - is it a diamond in the rough, or a crystal skull?

One of the biggest surprises Jewel Quest Solitaire will offer is just after start up, when a brief cutscene movie plays. Strange indeed that iWin would choose to create a clip like this just for a developer logo when the rest of what constitutes as JQS's story mode is left so limited. One theme that prevails throughout is the aforementioned take on Indiana Jones in both design and Mayan music; it's nothing spectacular but it stops the game from being just another generic puzzle title.

Upon reaching the main menu, you're presented with two main modes of play: Full Quest, and Just Cards. Just Cards is your regular game of Klondike solitaire, following the same rules seen on many computers and phones elsewhere; place a higher or lower value card, from Ace to Queen, on the face-up pile, and try not to run out of cards from the deck before you finish placing all the cards on the table back into the pile. Each card has one of four gems on it alongside its value, taking the place of conventional Spades, Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds, with bonus points and multipliers available for consistent chains of increasing or decreasing number and jewel type. You can either physically drag a card onto the pile or tap it to move it, which certainly beats cursory movement in both fluidity and ease of use. If the rules sound daunting on paper, and to first time solitaire players it most likely will do, there is a handy hint pop-up on the top screen that will let you know it you can't make any moves with your current face-up card, or if you pick the wrong value card to move. Not only that, it will also give regular gameplay hints from time to time, and is also useable at any time with a small icon in the corner of the touch screen. Next to that is an undo button to renege on regretted moves. Trial and error plays its part in Jewel Quest Solitaire, although that isn't to say the end result is a cakewalk - far from it.

The game's main breadwinner is Full Quest. It follows a good deal of the same rules as Just Cards, except it brings in the fun namesake of the game with the regular Jewel Quest grid and rules alongside solitaire. As you play the card game, gems and jewels fall into the grid on the top screen depending on which cards you use on the pile. When you finish with the cards, you're given the opportunity to boost your score by having a crack at the gems in the grid for a few rounds. By tapping on adjacent jewels you can swap their positions, the aim being to make a vertical or horizontal line of three or more of the same gem. Do this and a gold space is created behind the row; how many gold spaces are there at the end determines the number of bonus points awarded. Like the solitaire game, controls for this mode are simple and painless, and will make you wonder why you can't play with the gems separately from the card game.

Screenshot for Jewel Quest Solitaire on Nintendo DS

Despite the name, Full Quest offers little above that of Just Cards mode. There is a story attached to the mode that talks of a professor and the mystery behind his playing cards and the sketches of jewels he made, but due to how this plot is presented - via static text and projection-based images - it never becomes integral to Full Quest. All of the puzzles in both modes are presented via a scrapbook, usually two to a page, with half a dozen pages unlocked as you progress, so there is a good deal of longevity to JQS, if little variety.

There is little that the core game really gets wrong, but the end product itself just smacks of missed opportunity. For one, the lack of any multiplayer modes whatsoever is perplexing, as is the omission of a standalone Jewel Quest mode. There is a tutorial of sorts, as rules on the main menu, but all it offers is screen after screen of text - you're better off relying on the hints available in regular play. The fact that damages Jewel Quest Solitaire the most is that in one form or another it is readily playable in many other formats, including for free online. Therefore potential buyers will have to weigh up whether the advantage of portable and convenient play is worth the money, and with this game's structured but hollow frame it is hard to recommend.

Screenshot for Jewel Quest Solitaire on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


Joining the rows upon rows of DS puzzle games, Jewel Quest Solitaire brings a unique mishmash of gameplay to the fanbase, but does little to keep them enthralled, with a weak single player offering and nothing for multiple brainboxes. One to consider for fans of card games and grid-based puzzle games, but most will find a similar variation easily elsewhere.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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