Clear 140 aquatic-themed match-three boards and rebuild the lost city of Atlantis.
As far as match-three games go, there’s plenty of room for change and innovation; unfortunately, few developers seem inclined to use it. The new deep-sea-themed match-three game Jewel Legends: Atlantis falls firmly into that un-expansive camp. Although a prime example of established mechanics, the game does nothing whatsoever to advance the match-three genre.
Story is rarely the focus of match-three games, so Jewel Legends: Atlantis can perhaps be forgiven for its rudimentary attempt at context. The game starts with a (somewhat goofy-looking) merman telling you that the city of Atlantis was destroyed long ago. He then thanks Poseidon for sending you to help rebuild it. (Of course, this explanation begs the question, “What exactly have the mer-people been doing all this time? Sitting around twiddling their fins?”) Your mer-guide then goes on to explain that as Atlantis’ general contractor, you’ll be spending hours clearing symbol-filled boards in an attempt to earn money and bricks.
Bricks are important because they’re what allow you to rebuild portions of the city; however, since each location requires eight to fifteen bricks, and you can only earn one brick per cleared level, the process takes a while. While things can be slightly accelerated by buying and using various power-ups, it’s still somewhat tedious. Power-ups cost anywhere from one to several thousand gold, can be upgraded once each, and do the same things you’ve seen in a hundred other match-three games—remove single tiles, rows of tiles or groups of tiles via lightning or other explosions. The only difference here is that they’re rendered with ocean-themed art.
Jewel Legends: Atlantis’ game boards are also familiar and present the same kinds of challenges as many other match-three games. As things progress, tiles must be flipped or unchained (once, then twice), and the shapes of the boards change as well. Once all the necessary tiles have been flipped, a single brick must then be brought from the top of the screen to the bottom. The game can be played in Timed or Zen mode, but between you and me, Timed is the only way to go if you ever want to finish the game.
In terms of art, Jewel Legends: Atlantis is decent but unspectacular. In some ways, its simple 3D graphics bring to mind the slot machines of about ten years ago, which isn’t exactly a compliment. Considering the genre though, that’s more or less acceptable. The game’s sound effects are fairly satisfying (especially when you get a good chain/combo going), but the best element of the game is its music. The musical themes convey a sense of being in an ethereal underwater environment and are soothing and unobtrusive enough to listen to for hours. The perky voice of your merman tour guide—well, that’s another story.
Completing the game’s Adventure mode and rebuilding all of Atlantis will take you roughly 15 hours. After that, if you still haven’t had enough matching-three, you can take advantage of the game’s other two modes: Freeplay and Tournament. Freeplay is just what it sounds like; the free playing of all the levels you’ve managed to unlock. Tournament mode is slightly more interesting, since it offers your match-three skills an “endless” challenge. Starting with simple boards, a set amount of time, and access to all of the game’s power-ups (this is actually a good way to preview the power-ups that take forever to gain access to in Adventure mode), it quickly progresses to more difficult board configurations. The idea is to keep going for as long as you can, refilling your timer with combos and earning points as you clear board after board.
Jewel Legends: Atlantis is a fine game, just not a ground-breaking one. It’s a good entertainment value depending on your expectations, and as such is the match-three equivalent of a McDonald’s cheeseburger; perfect for when you want sustenance with no surprises.