A Real Gem Of A Puzzler
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Over the past few months I've been hoping to find an enjoyable family game. The last great one I had was Pac-man Party, so the bar was set pretty high. Family games are difficult to perfect seeing as you must entertain a wide variety of players of all ages.
So when I received Jewel Link Chronicles: Mountains of Madness, I was intrigued to see what steps were taken to find this balance. Once I had all the settings figured out, I hit the New Game button and prepared for some generic starting sequence.
However, I was wrong in every sense of the word. Jewel Link Chronicles started out with a small background story that instantly caught my attention and didn't let go the entire time I was playing, which was quite a while. The story places you with two people investigating the disappearance of a team of explorers. When I got through the cut scene I was able to work on my first puzzle.
Now, I'm not sure if I'm about to prove my age here, but is everyone here familiar with the I Spy books? When I was growing up I used to sit in the library in Newark, Ohio and read one after another trying to get smarter. For those who don't know or don't remember, I Spy is a giant book with different little places inside and you, the reader, had to track down hidden objects.
Finding hidden objects is one of the first puzzles in each set here in Jewel Link Chronicles: Mountains of Madness, so I was at home. It's also one of the most popular puzzle type game mechanics today, and thankfully it's done really well here with interesting objects to find and beautiful backgrounds. And by hidden, I mean REALLY hidden. Half the time I was staring directly at the object in question and didn't even realize it, so if you find hidden object games too easy, you will relish the challenge here. Lucky for me, a non-pro hidden object gamer, there was a hint button, or I'd still be looking for some of the items. Nice to have an out though, and I'm glad to see it was included.
After the steroid infused scavenger hunt, you go to a quick little puzzle type which mostly consists of placing objects in the correct location. These are relatively painless, which is great considering the next type of puzzles.
The puzzle you are hit with next, and is the last in each set, is just like the game Bejeweled. Here's the issue...I'm horrible at Bejeweled, just ask my family. Yet take Bejeweled and amp it up and make it very angry and you get these puzzles. For hours I struggled through these, and a few times had to put it down and take a walk. I know most people love Bejeweled, so this probably wont be a problem.
With great determination and probably more coffee than is healthy, I made it through the majority of them. This game proved that family games can be just as challenging as other titles.
One issue I did find was the audio. There were great sound effects, but sometimes the music seemed non-existent. There were moments I checked my volume switch to make sure it wasn't bumped off. Other than that this game had no glaring flaws.
Jewel Link Chronicles: Mountains of Madness is a stellar family title, and if you own a DS it really should be on your list of games to get. While they may be a newer company, Maximum Family Games has the right idea, and you should watch for their next set of releases. They've got the magic.
I give this game 4 Gin Gems due to its fun factor and lack of flaws. Have I finally found a great family title that's fun for all ages? Thankfully, yes. My DS is happy.
Neal Sayatovich loves the twists, turns and scares of a well developed horror game. Contact him at : email@example.com.