“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” must have been the mantra while working on Jewels of Cleopatra 2: Aztec Mysteries, a very good but very similar game to its successful predecessor.
It’s a gratifying adventure indeed, but those who paid for the original game – available as a download or on CD-ROM at retail – might feel it’s more of the same despite a few new additions.
Once again players assume the role of the attractive Dr. Felicity Turnstone, who swaps Egypt for Mexico as she begins to uncover ruins from the Aztec Empire. Specifically, she sets out to find jewels worn by an Aztec princess with the help of her friends, including Dr. Shuffle, while also tying to outwit her thieving nemesis, Shady McGrady, who we met in Jewels of Cleopatra.
As with the original game, Jewels of Cleopatra 2: Aztec Mysteries introduces an interesting take on Match-3 games, one of the most popular casual game genres. In order for Felicity to navigate tombs and other areas in her search for treasure, you must swap adjacent jewels so that at least three or more of the same item are aligned horizontally or vertically. When this happens, they turn from stone to gold, allowing our heroine to walk towards another part of the level; a small mini-map at the bottom of the screens shows players where they need to travel to in order to clear the level. Players simply left mouse-click to create a Match-3 and right mouse-click to move Felicity along the path.
If you don’t want to start the level over again, obstacles you’ll need to get past include scorpions, water traps and spider webs, while a number of power-ups can be acquired and used to your advantage, such as one that transforms nine spots on the board into gold, another that lights up dark rooms and a third that blows up unwanted gems for you.
One of the new twists this time around is a dozen mini-games that are spread out throughout each of the 65 maps. Examples of these fun digital diversions that can give you bonus points include an Armadillo Race (whoever gets to the finish first after four laps, wins), Aztec Cups (which is similar the old “shell game”), Toltec Slots (slot machine) and sliding tile-like puzzles; some are better than others but they all serve as a good — albeit short — break from the Match-3 game-play.
Similar to the first game the story is told with entertaining sequences with a little animation, and you’ll unlock more of the tale as you progress throughout the various levels. Will Shady get the jewels before you? The graphics are simply but charming, and the Aztec theme, which runs throughout the entire story and mini-games, is nicely done.
Armchair adventurers who enjoy Match-3 games will no doubt enjoy clicking through the story-heavy Jewels of Cleopatra 2: Aztec Mysteries and it will likely win over players who appreciate the unique adventuring component. But those who bought the original game should first download this sequel’s playable demo to see if there’s enough new content to justify the purchase.