Shiny colorful jewels, pretty pastoral scenery, lovely soothing music. . . what more could a girl want? I feel like the developers have taken my wish list for what makes a great arcade puzzle matching game and checked all the boxes as they rolled it up into one beautiful little package called GemDrop Deluxe.
Despite the rather pedestrian name, GemDrop is full of surprises. It starts out as a cross between Tetris and Bejeweled. You feel like you're playing Tetris because the gems drop down into a rectangular well from above and disappear as they “match” up. But that is where the similarity to Tetris ends. All the jewels are the same shape, so there is no geometric challenge of flipping pieces as they drop down the chute. Instead the focus is more on matching. Like Bejeweled, you are tasked with finding gems with like colors as they fall down from the sky. Instead of swapping or twisting jewels around, you match the gems with like-colored pieces as they fall. Because there are many different colored items and you can only see one gem into the future, it's challenging to know where to place your pieces for maximum results.
If that were all there was to it, Gem Drop Deluxe would still be an arcade style puzzling game with hours of unpredictable fun. But there's more. First of all, there are several different modes that keep you on your toes. The modes include Creation, Survival, Time Attack, Wealth, Collect and Quick Play, which are all aptly named. As you're busy matching gems to stay alive, one of your goals is to actually create a bigger jewel. This simple addition to the gameplay creates in-game rewards that are delight to watch. From the smaller pieces, you create larger jewels in the shape of a diamond, square, heart, teardrop, star and, most rare of all, the oval.
In addition to multiple modes of play and new gem creations, Ge Drop Deluxe also takes full advantage of the crisp display capabilities of the iPhone in quest mode. While not interfering with the puzzling action, a beautiful pastoral scene (looks like a painting) is displayed in the background. This is the type of creativity I think many developers overlook in focusing on the gameplay alone. While I'm busy matching gems and creating larger gems, it is a pleasure to view a beautiful scene that reminds me how wonderful it is to view colorful images on my iPhone.Sound design is also top notch. I love the sound effects and the soothing music that actually enhances the game play. I accidentally played for a few minutes with the sound off (iPhone mute button), and I knew something was missing. When I turned the sound back on, I really noticed how much the music and sound effects blended perfectly with the action on the screen. Hats off to the developer for making me want to keep the sound on when I so often want to turn it off!