It happens with most every successful mobile/casual game. One developer brings a new, addicting concept to the table, and several others shamelessly copy it. While the energy could be spent on trying create new and unique experiences, however, sometimes what starts as a faithful recreation can grow to be a formula-invigorating reinvention. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D.
In Cradle of Egypt 2, you do exactly what you do in every other match-three game: match-three. Only this Bejeweled-like isn’t entirely unoriginal. Each tile in the game has the capacity to hold a single jewel-like object, and certain tiles may be tinted a different color (aqua pictured below). Matching objects that are within tinted tiles will cause said tile to revert to the neutral background color. Rather than expecting you to reach a certain score to beat the level, you’ll need to make all of the tinted tiles revert to their neutral color to progress. Additionally, some tiles are locked. Jewel-like objects that are in locked tiles cannot be “swapped” as they traditionally can in match-three games. Once you arrange two matching objects with a locked one, the tile becomes unlocked, and you can play the game as you would normally.
The game features three modes of play, Tourney, Adventure, and Blitz. Adventure is the main attraction in which you’re given the objective of building Egypt… let me explain.
With each level beaten, a certain amount of resources used to build are acquired. The exact amount is informed by what kind of jewel-like objects are matched together while playing, and how quickly a level is completed. As you move forward, each building will cost more than the last. Once a building is purchased, a free-sliding puzzle of said building can be completed. Thankfully, if the puzzle proves too difficult, the choice of skipping it is available after a few seconds.
Tourney mode gives players the opportunity to replay levels from Adventure mode. Whereas Blitz tasks you with running as far through adventure mode before an in-game timer runs out. There are also in-game trophies you can work toward if you feel so inclined, but the game has no leaderboards nor any other online component.
Here’s the situation: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D. It doesn’t do anything significant to change the formula, and it doesn’t add anything particularly interesting to the table, but there’s no arguing how incredibly addicting it is. It’s difficult to describe in words the sort of slot-machine-style satisfaction gained from accidentally engaging a huge combo of object-matching; the resulting crescendo of such an event makes these games hard to grow tired of. Cradle of Egypt 2 functions properly as a match-three game, and that’s about all it takes to become a successful match-three game. So if you’re in desperate need of a Bejeweled-like to play on your 3DS, look no further. Otherwise, go for one of the similarly satisfying free alternatives.