Mobile games are a funny thing. Not so long ago, there was a time when the idea of a match-3 game on your phone seemed unique and quirky. But nowadays? After countless hours of Candy Crush and its endless clones, it takes something special to stand out from the pack. Jewel Quest for Cash believes that something special is real money tournaments — and while that might help get you in the door, it’s the gameplay that will keep you coming back time and again.
If the name Jewel Quest rings a bell, there’s good reason for that. Back in the early days of casual gaming, it went toe-to-toe with the likes of Bejeweled for the match-3 gaming crown. The series has continued to see a number of releases over the years, from hidden object mashups to mobile free-to-play offerings, and has racked up an impressive 250 million downloads to date.
This latest version of Jewel Quest feels a bit stripped down by comparison, but with good reason. Jewel Quest for Cash focuses solely on the core of the experience, allowing players to practice and perfect their skills before putting their money where their mouth is.
Such repetition might sound dull on paper, but because of a few wise design choices, Jewel Quest for Cash is holding my interest better than most match-3 games of late.
The object of each round is to turn every tile on the board gold. To do this, you’ll make matches that occupy the related squares. What sets Jewel Quest for Cash apart from the competition — and what brings it back to match-3 gaming’s roots — is a focus on speed over strategy. To win against the competition, you’ll need to get the highest score possible. And to do that, you’ll want to clear the board faster than anybody else. Yes, you’ll earn more points for bigger combos and such, but the best score boost comes from redeeming your extra time at the end of each game. If you can clear the game 10 seconds faster than the competition? That’s money in your pocket.
That’s not to say strategy isn’t a component too, but you’ll need to think fast if you want to play well. The gameplay offers a few excellent twists that complement this need for speed; players can continue make matches while gems are falling and combos exploding, and you can swipe gems into empty spaces on the board to help keep things flowing. Both of these are incredibly simple additions, and yet thanks to the frantic nature of the gameplay, they add a whole new dimension of thought to the experience.
Depending on your perspective, of course, the stripped down nature of Jewel Quest for Cash could very well be a turn off for some players. It’s the grunge rock reaction to the overly produced, meticulously crafted puzzles you’ll find in so many modern match-3 games. Despite having “for Cash,” in the name, the real money component isn’t even the focus here. It’s the gameplay, both tight and fresh, and the thrill of competition. You can play this game forever without spending (or winning) a dime if you want. But if you’re getting good? The option is absolutely there if you want it.
Competitive games are growing on mobile. From Vainglory and Clash Royale to the most recent Angry Birds update, we seem to be entering a golden age of mobile competition. Jewel Quest for Cash gets that, and it raises the stakes beyond bragging rights. More than that though, it’s a reminder of a time when match-3 games used to get your heart pumping. As someone who was once thrilled to play Bejeweled on a feature phone, it’s hard to ask for much more than that.
Jewel Quest for Cash is published by iWin, who also own Gamezebo. iWin did not contribute or otherwise have any input into the content of the article.