In a world of Candy Crush clones and match-3 fighters, Jolly Jam strives to be something different. It’s a matching game, sure, but Jolly Jam isn’t about swapping gems and stringing together combos. Instead it takes a completely fresh approach, and for the most part, it’s one that pays off.
While the specific goals vary from level to level, Jolly Jam is all about removing a set number of certain pieces from the board. To do this, you’ll draw a box with your finger, connecting a fruit in on corner with a matching fruit in the other. Any of the same color fruit trapped inside that box will disappear. The bigger the box, the more fruit you can potentially remove from the board.
This is the one key difference that separates Jolly Jam from the host of “me too” Candy Crush impersonators out there, and it results in a fundamentally different game. It’s worth stressing this, because it really is the only difference. The nature of objectives, the obstacles you’ll encounter — much of what provides the backbone for Jolly Jam’s experience will feel familiar to veterans of the genre.
That’s not a slight against it, mind you. These games are successful for a reason, and if Jolly Jam can stand out by mixing fundamentally different gameplay in a familiar wrapper, all the power to it.
So Jolly Jam is unique, but is it good? Yes, but with a caveat. Making big boxes to capture fruit never fails to satisfy, but the nature of the gameplay leaves the experience much too easy for far too long a time. The first 20 or 30 levels may leave you asking “is this it?” And that’s a shame, because you’ve got to think this will be the quit point for a lot of gamers.
Once you get into the 40’s and beyond though, all of the elements you’ve encountered so far start to come together in single stages, offering the sort of challenge that you were hoping for from the very beginning. All of a sudden just making big boxes isn’t enough. You’ll need to carefully plan out how many fruits you’ll need for a certain power-up, and exactly how to place that power-up where you want it. You’ll find yourself dealing with rocket-powered fruit-chewing monsters, trapped pieces, empty grid holes blocking your path, and tiles that needs to be dropped — sometimes all in a single stage.
If you can burn through the easy levels, you’ll find a lot to love in Jolly Jam. There’s a fun level of strategy to be had once you get beyond the basics — if only the basics didn’t take so long.
Still, your perseverance will be rewarded with this one. If you’ve grown tired of swapping gems and yearn for a fresh take on matching games, Jolly Jam is time well spent.