When’s the last time you saw an ugly fairy? Really. To be honest, I don’t recall seeing an unsightly pixie…ever. Ugly ducklings, yes. But fairies? They’re just so darn cute. And, apparently, it’s enough to tick some people off.

Such is the case in Fairy Jewels where you encounter an evil wizard who simply can’t stand the adorable little imps. And so, the story begins.

As fate would have it, a malevolent mage has captured every fairy in the land and locked them into his dark, dank castle. Your charge is to find and free these sweet little creatures and return them to fairyland — a task that requires matching wits, and gems, if you’re going to be successful.

More than a simple match-three game, Fairy Jewels combines its addictive puzzle action with a journey through a fantasy setting. Its story unfolds across 15 chapters and 150 levels of play, involving giants, goblins, dragons, castles and, obviously, fairies.

Game mechanics are basic. A cannon perched at the bottom of the screen fires colored jewels (the left mouse button activates the cannon, while the right swaps the current gem with the next in line). Hit two or more gems of the same color and they disappear. Otherwise, your colored ammo multiplies on impact, a single jewel becoming twenty. Thus, if you’re not careful, you can easily end up with an overabundance of gems. And, that can thwart your progress at reaching your goal — to rescue each fairy on a given level before time runs out. Should you fail, the level ends and you lose a life.

A secondary goal is amassing points, jewels worth one apiece. As you clear the gems blocking your way, coins and bonuses are often released in the process. These provide extra points and/or convey special capabilities, if collected (items are collected by hitting them with a gem). Catching coins adds 1,000 points to your score. Nabbing bonuses activates them and gives you an extra 50 points each. Fairies, when freed, garner 100 points. Earn a total of 150,000 points from all sources and an extra life is added, a windfall you’ll eventually need.

Of course, most jewels and fairies are not in your direct line of fire. Obstacles like Glass Balls get in the way. Fortunately, they’re easy to break, though, they offer no points. Other impediments include Star Fillers and Jewel Fillers. When hit with a gem, they fill the immediate area with jewels of the same color and can then be removed. Brick and Steel Blocks, however, are a bit more resistant and difficult to handle. They require special bonuses to dislodge.

And, speaking of bonuses, a handful of assorted goodies randomly appears. Bombs, when they materialize, include Big, Small, Color and Star varieties, each offering a slightly different type and size of explosion. Simply catch one and launch it at an obstruction to clear the way. Collect the Gun bonus and you can vaporize pretty much everything except Steel Blocks. For those you need the Steel Converter which turns the offending hindrances into gems. Possibly the most desirable extra, however, is the Aim bonus. Time limited, it shows exactly where your shots will land. Other bonuses exist, as well, but I’ll let you discover them on your own.

While Fairy Jewels is not the most visually stunning game to emerge from casual ranks in recent months, it’s attractive nonetheless. More importantly, it’s immensely addictive. One more level becomes two, three, ten…well, you get the idea. It’s just plain fun to play. The only real complaints to levy are a lack of additional play modes (only Story Mode is provided) and an absence of inventiveness once you reach the halfway point. Otherwise, it’s a winner!

Fairy Jewels is, well, a jewel of a game — a non-violent treat for the whole family. It’s not the most fully-featured or ground-breaking offering, but it’s packed with enjoyment. Pick up a copy now and you’ll be shaking fairy dust off your clothes for weeks!