Sequels are difficult things to gauge sometimes. This is doubly true when the first game was a real winner. The Treasures of Montezuma 2 is of course the follow-up to last year’s Treasures of Montezuma, but in spite of the 18 months between titles it doesn’t look like a lot of new material was brought to the table.
The Treasures of Montezuma 2 is a nice match-three title, with all the familiar trappings of the genre. Like the first game, you make your way through various puzzles, making matches of three to five tiles in length by swapping tiles, creating combos, earning powerful power-ups and the like. The game encourages you to create matches in quick succession, as doing this increases a Score Frenzy meter. When full, you can earn double the points for a limited time. To pass a level, you must break tiles that contain gems. The game starts out with as few as 15 gems to collect, but quickly gets above 60. And with a timer ticking down, you’ll have to move fast.
Fortunately, the scoring is ranked on the time it takes you to finish – at least in Normal mode. While you won’t get a high ranking for taking a while, you won’t automatically fail out of a level just because you couldn’t make the match in time, which is a welcome reprieve.
When compared to the original game, The Treasures of Montezuma 2 looks like a million bucks. Everything has a lovely coat of shine to it, and details like gems bursting and lights flashing all gleam with the glamour of a Vegas billboard. In addition to the main adventure mode – which, as mentioned, now has three difficulty levels – there are the new Puzzle and Endless modes. Puzzle mode has 40 fun levels for you to solve, while Endless lets you make matches to your heart’s content. Both these modes as well as the difficulty levels unlock as you make progress in the main Adventure mode.
The game’s "store" is different from the original. Rather than earning golden stars for completing each level, you are awarded gold coins, depending on how well you perform. So, if you play better, you can purchase items and upgrades much faster. However, in making it different, the layout of the "town" (the name of the area where you purchase upgrades) is a little bit confusing to navigate. It all looks a bit busy, which while jiving with the game’s frenetic core, doesn’t help when you just want to figure out which upgrade to buy. The map screen, navigating from level to level, can get confusing. Though I thought I pressed the Play button, I was taken to the town to buy an upgrade I didn’t think I needed.
Otherwise, the game is pretty much a carbon copy of the first. While the title screen shows off the first example of the beautiful upgrade in the graphics department, the sound will definitely disappoint. Like an unfortunately large number of casual titles, the music and sound effects are identical to the first one. When loading up The Tresaures of Montezuma 2, the sound is the first cue for déjà vu.
Next are the power-ups. The purchasable totems (mystical stone creatures that grant power-ups when two consecutive matches are made of the same color) are back. The list of powers is the same: fireballs that destroy parts of the playfield, lightning that destroys one color of tile on the board. The bonuses for making matches of four or five tiles (like making an exploding tile that clears a small area of the board) are repeated here.
Also repeated are mini-games at the end of each of the game’s four worlds. While they are an interesting diversion, such as a hidden object game, they do not really add to the core gameplay of The Tresaures of Montezuma 2. The first title only had around 40 levels, and even that is repeated here.
On the plus side of the repetition is the vast array of achievements and trophies to unlock. There are myriad ways to achieve, and strive to do that much better. However, when the achievement is unlocked, rather than waiting until the end of the level to tell you, the game wants you to have instant gratification by placing a white box right over the playfield telling you what you just earned. You can’t work under the box, and have to wait until it leaves if you want to work on that part of the board.
Finally, though it may not matter that much to you, there is no story. Gone from the first game is any hint of narrative. Though the gameplay stands tall without it, it does feel a little weird to play the game without purpose. Also, as a bit of an oddball oddity, "Hard" is written as "Expert" on the stage select screen, and vice versa.
So what did the developers do with those 18 months between the first game and The Treasures of Montezuma 2? Not much, it unfortunately seems. I had not played the first game when starting out with The Treasures of Montezuma 2, and was genuinely excited for its gameplay. However, a quick visit to the first one shows the true colors. Therefore, if you’re like me and never experienced the first game, by all means, download this title. If you’ve already unearthed Montezuma’s treasures in the first game, the Yucatan looks might familiar in The Tresaures of Montezuma 2.