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iPhone  header logo

Kingdom of Gnester


For: iPhone

My kingdom for three matches

Product: Kingdom of Gnester | Developer: Another Castle Studios | Format: iPhone | Genre: Adventure, Platform, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US | App version: 1.1
 
Kingdom of Gnester iPhone, thumbnail 1
Every empire has to assert command over its own territory. Without land to call its own, there's nothing over which to rule. Kingdom of Gnester lays claim to the space between match-three puzzler and platformer, an area that's uniquely its own.

Its inventiveness goes unquestioned and this clever combination yields good gameplay: however, more can be done to fortify its foundation in light of minor flaws and better games within reach.

As the dwarf crown prince Gnester, you're called to strike out and establish your own kingdom using a magical matchmaking cube. Matching coloured gems empowers the cube to unleash magic that enables you to jump over obstacles, summon a protective shield, and even attack enemies.

When you've made enough matches of a particular colour, tapping the corresponding icon atop the cube activates the power.

An unstoppable force

Time is of the essence since Gnester automatically moves forward through each side-scrolling stage at the top of the screen. Faced with an impending pitfall, for example, you have to correctly time the activation of his jump magic to make it across: do it too early or late and the stage is lost.

More creativity is shown in how you deal with the various enemies that appear. Aggressive bison can be eliminated with a blast of magic, while swooping birds are evaded by ducking.

There are even tough boss battles and bouncy tree stumps that can either be destroyed or jumped upon for a boost. Combined with branching paths, levels are filled with interesting obstacles and challenges.

Strict timing unfortunately chips away at these creative scenarios. Gaps spanning the width of the screen have to be timed perfectly and relentless waves of foes force successive jumps, ducks, and attacks.

Sometimes it's a challenge, but mostly it's an annoying exercise in figuring out the anointed pattern for completing the level.

It isn't uncommon to attempt a level a dozen times knowing full well what needs to be done to complete it, yet strict timing prevents reasonable progress.

Suddenly stops

Also of concern is the randomness of the gems that appear in the cube. The cube provides the gems necessary for the powers needed for a given level in most cases, but there were instances where needed gems were in short supply.

When you desperately need to jump and there aren't enough green gems to match for the power, it's hard to feel as though the loss is legitimate.

Gnester's campaign lasts only 30 stages, after which it comes to an abrupt end. It's unusual - you're left feeling like the game just stops without any clear reason. Fortunately, Puzzle mode continues the match-three action.

Here you're able to earn golden gnomes for purchasing helpful power-ups for use in both Story and Puzzle modes by focusing purely on match-three play.

Ranch mode also allows you to accumulate currency, but it's not at all compelling and feels out of context. Additional Story mode stages would have been preferable.

By eliminating Ranch mode, easing the timing of some levels, and ensuring needed gems appear, Kingdom of Gnester could lay claim to both originality and polish. It's enjoyable, though its inventive approach isn't enough to annex the territory of better match-three puzzlers.
 
Kingdom of Gnester
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 13 January 2010
A clever combination of platforming and puzzle play that requires polish before making a bid for the match-three crown
 
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