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DS  header logo

Jewel Quest Expeditions

For: DS

Lacking a little sparkle

Product: Jewel Quest Expeditions | Publisher: Avanquest Software Publishing | Format: DS | Genre: Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: US
Jewel Quest Expeditions DS, thumbnail 1

With Indiana Jones making his hotly anticipated return to our cinema screens this year and the continuing popularity of the BBC's very own tribe-botherer Bruce Parry, it appears that the general public has something of a taste for exploration. Not enough to get up out of their armchairs and stray off the beaten track themselves, of course, but pretty much everyone enjoys taking a peek into the unknown corners of the world.

Video games have remained a reliable source of digital escapism for decades, with no genre safe from the lures of unexplored lands and ancient civilisations. Jewel Quest Expeditions takes a crack at bringing classic adventure to the somewhat oversaturated DS puzzle genre, and makes a fairly decent fist of it.

The first thing we should note is that Jewel Quest is not a new series by any means, with this just the latest addition to a string of mobile and PC games. The premise for each game in the series has been to take a solid match-three puzzle game and place it in the context of a classic, Indiana Jones-esque adventure story. While they've never been spectacular experiences, we at Pocket Gamer have always rated the mobile versions quite highly.

But the DS is an entirely different plaform. As mentioned, Nintendo's portable marvel is positively bursting with block-dropping, gem-matching and bubble-popping experiences in all shapes and sizes. It is the Mecca for all casual-puzzle enthusiasts, to the point where developers really have to do something exceptional to grab our attention in this overcrowded corner of the market.

The core action of swapping gems to make a matching line of three or more is as well executed in Jewel Quest Expeditions as it is in any other example of the format, with stylus control implemented flawlessly and plenty of subtle variations to keep your interest up through the sizeable story mode.

So the gameplay is solid enough, but what of the story element? Presented as a series of nicely drawn if slightly lifeless talking heads, this is a fairly generic tale of lost artefacts and the various factions vying to obtain them. Lead character Rupert Pack (though you get to experience events from a variety of perspectives) is likeable enough, but he proves to be two dimensional in more than one sense. The writing lacks the wit and charm necessary to wrap you up in the adventure, and you'll soon find yourself tapping impatiently to get to the next puzzle section.

That the two elements, gameplay and story, seem almost entirely removed from one another further affects your immersion in the Jewel Quest world. While it might be argued that an abstract puzzle game could never fully support or complement an involving story, the DS's very own Puzzle Quest blows that theory out of the water.

And it's the strength of such competition and the sheer range of viable alternatives that takes the shine off this particular gem. Ultimately, Jewel Quest Expeditions comes across as an attractive but commonly visited tourist spot rather than virgin territory ripe for exploration.

Jewel Quest Expeditions
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 7 November 2008
Solidly constructed and as compelling as ever, Jewel Quest on the DS suffers from the wealth of high-quality alternatives on the platform and a somewhat superfluous story
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