Jewel Kingdom is a new Facebook-based “match-3” puzzle game from Qublix. The game has been available since early May and has shown strong growth recently, appearing as the No. 11 top gainer by MAU this week as well as the No. 19 top gainer by DAU.
Jewel Kingdom is a match-3 puzzler in the Bejeweled mold. Players swap gems in an attempt to produce horizontal or vertical lines of between 3 and 5 jewels of the same color. Matching 4 gems produces a special “bomb” gem which, when matched, destroys gems around it. Matching 5 gems in a line produces a “hypercube” which, when swapped with another gem, destroys all gems of that color on the board. Matching 5 gems in a “T” or “L” shape produces a “star gem” which destroys rows and columns of jewels. Various powerups can be used both before and during the game to gain an advantage, and matching gems charges up a “magic weapon” that destroys a selection of gems across the board.
There isn’t much to say about Jewel Kingdom that hasn’t already been said about other match-3 puzzlers. The game combines two well-worn game mechanics — timed “blitz” puzzles and a few “drop shiny items to the bottom of the screen” objective-based levels — and does so in competent, but unremarkable fashion. The base mechanics are identical to Bejeweled, even going so far as to use the exact same names for the special gems. The few differences it has over PopCap’s classic — the magical weapons, the unusual shape of some levels and the mix of “blitz” and “objective” gameplay — have all been seen in other games, too.
Jewel Kingdom’s presentation is, like the rest of the experience, acceptable but unremarkable. The game screen feels somewhat cluttered and there does not appear to be a full-screen mode. Simple flaws like spelling errors make it feel like the game has been rushed out in an attempt to capitalize on Facebook users’ seemingly insatiable appetite for almost-identical puzzle games rather than having real time and care invested into it.
Titles such as King.com’s Candy Crush Saga show that new match-3 puzzlers can be good, fresh-feeling experiences if they include a variety of different things for the player to do rather than simply following the same old formula that has been used in many previous games. Candy Crush Saga also bothers to revamp the aesthetic, making use of delicious-looking sweets rather than the same jewels we’ve seen time and time again. It’s a small difference, but it makes a profound impact on the “feel” of the game. Jewel Kingdom, meanwhile, feels like yet another in a long line of Bejeweled clones that will likely enjoy some initial success before it fades into obscurity as players return to the old, faithful Bejeweled Blitz.
It’s even questionable as to whether Jewel Kingdom will be profitable. The game provides players with a generous initial package of hard currency, but it’s not made immediately obvious to the player what either hard or soft currency may be spent on. The in-game shop offers a selection of new jewel and background designs for players to unlock in exchange for soft currency, but the in-game powerups — which cost hard currency to activate — aren’t explicitly introduced to the player. This makes them easy to miss, particularly with the game’s cluttered interface.
All in all, Jewel Kingdom is an eminently forgettable entry in an overcrowded genre. It doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from the numerous other Bejeweled clones out there, and its shameless cribbing of terminology introduced in PopCap’s classic makes it all the more obvious that this is a game produced without any real attention paid to creativity or originality. While this makes it immediately understandable to fans of the genre, it also makes the game completely unworthy of note, making this a title that can be safely skipped.
Unoriginal, unremarkable but perfectly competent with it, Jewel Kingdom shows that the Match-3 genre is in dire need of a shakeup.