The casual games industry has spoiled me with the diversity of games with beautiful graphics, varied puzzles, and complementary music. So card games don’t appeal to me as much as in the past … that is, until Jewel Quest Solitaire. The card game blends Golf solitaire, match three / color match, a good story, great sound effects, and crisp graphics to create something atypical of card games.
I have not played any modern card games with a twist, but I’ve played Golf — the solitaire game — thousands of times. It’s a simple game (are games simple anymore?), but somehow it gripped me for many hands. In Golf, the object is to remove all cards from the stacks by pulling cards that are one higher or one lower than the face up card on the pile.
The building block for this solitaire comes from the popular Jewel Quest, a match three style-game with an adventure theme. Here you step in the dirty shoes of Indiana Jones look-alike’s nephew. Hey, the game uses the Indiana Jones font style. The Indian Jones here is Professor Percy Pack, a scholar who passes his worn brown fedora to you, provides you with his journal, and shows you how to play the homemade card game.
The game tells the story in a cool office setting with an old style slide projector with pictures appearing black and white complete with old-time radio sound narration. Open the journal to begin playing solitaire with cards having jewels and stones on them instead of aces, clubs, spades, and hearts. Unlike Golf and most solitaire games, the layout changes every time you successfully complete a layout.
The original Jewel Quest enters the picture in your second layout. While you play solitaire, jewels appear in a small match three grid in the corner of your screen. Depending on the cards you play and your progress, you earn jewels that appear on the grid. If a match occurs, then the tile turns gold. The primary goal is to clear the cards followed by the secondary goal, which is to turn all tiles into gold.
You won’t likely turn all the tiles gold while playing solitaire — however, you’ll earn “swaps,” or turns, for playing the match three part of the game. The more swaps you win, the more moves you can make in turning the tiles gold. You play match three as soon as you clear the cards off the board. Each swap represents a move, so aim to turn all the tiles into gold within the number of moves you have available. The game rewards bonus points if you don’t use up your swaps.
I thought I almost finished the game when I got a pleasant surprise, but I won’t spoil that here. Let’s just say the game play lasts a long time. Jewel Quest Solitaire comes in two modes: Quest, the adventure part where you make matches; and Just Cards, where you play solitaire without the color matching part. However, while you play solitaire in Just Cards mode, the color match grid will appear and your moves can turn tiles into gold. You just won’t get to do any swapping.
The developer and publisher missed an excellent opportunity here to convert solitaire fans into Jewel Quest fans. There should be a third game mode along the lines of “Just Color Matching” where you play the color matching game without the solitaire. This consists of the original Jewel Quest. Considering Jewel Quest II exists, it could lead to solitaire players taking an interest in the two Jewel Quest games.
The surprises don’t stop there. The game takes care not to spoil players with power ups in the form of wild cards as they appear every so often. A regular wild card works as any card of your choosing. Another wild card adds another pile so you can have more than one foundation pile for matching cards.
There’s even a good / bad wild card where you can choose any card to discard, but also it erases any wild card rules in effect. In other words, if you have two or three piles of cards, this wild card gets rid of the two piles that you’re back to one pile. The neat thing about power ups and this game is that you can’t use the same strategy throughout — it requires adjustment.
Jewel Quest Solitaire single-handedly renewed my interest in solitaire games — not an easy task considering all the superb games available in the casual games market. After playing the game for over a week, it still surprises me. Jewel Quest Solitaire II is available for those who want more.
System Requirements: Windows
- Windows ME/98/2000/XP/Vista
- 800MHz or faster processor
- 512 MB RAM
- 16 MB video card (32-bit graphics)
- 50 MB hard drive space
- DirectX 7.0 or later