A couple of years ago, I-play released Jewel Quest, a game based on i-Win's online game of the same name. It was popular with Web gamers, and its simple yet addictive premise seemed ripe for a transition to the mobile screen.
Thankfully, I-play managed to take the essence of what had made Jewel Quest so popular in its online guise, and transfer it exactly to mobile.
Since then, i-Win has released a sequel online, so it was only a matter of time before the imaginatively-titled Jewel Quest II also made the leap to the mobile platform. But have there been enough improvements and new ideas to warrant a follow-up, or has I-play perhaps brought one web-game too many to mobile?
It all starts familiarly enough, from the Indiana Jones-style font in the title screen to the general layout of the playing area. It looks just like the original Jewel Quest, and is in the same vein as I-play's more recent Big Kahuna Reef – itself a variation on the Jewel Quest theme.
New to the series? The game is based on an on-screen grid, with your objective being to match up three identical relics in a row, in the process turning the tiles behind them gold.
You do this by using your handset's joypad or number keys to highlight a square, and then choosing a direction in which to move it, swapping with the adjacent one. It's a simple game mechanic with faultless one-thumb control.
Easy, or at least it would be if it wasn't for the new relics, which fall onto the grid to replace the ones that you've just made disappear. This can in turn trigger three-in-a-row chain reactions, which can cause all manner of problems if you go in headlong without thinking through your moves.
There's a startling amount of strategy and forward-thinking required in Jewel Quest II. You have to make sure you 'triple up' the relics at the right time, otherwise you'll soon find yourself stuck in a rut, not making any headway into turning the board gold before the clock ticks down.
Of help are the rare golden relics that occasionally appear, which when moved into a line of three will top up your 'gold meter', a special move that lets you turn a specific tile gold instantly. They're especially handy when there's a lone tile in the corner of the grid, frustratingly resisting your efforts to turn it golden.
So how does Jewel Quest II compare to the original? It's certainly more polished, with graphics that are bolder and more detailed. The sound is impressive too, with decent-if-simple Amazonian style tunes, and sound effects that are more than your average mobile game bleep, with a good example being the bird squawks.
It's a more refined package than the first game, then, but it's not offering anything new over it in terms of gameplay. Then again, it's also fair to say that if it ain't broke, you don't have to fix it.
With this in mind, Jewel Quest II is a must-buy only if you want to play Jewel Quest with slightly better graphics, or if you're totally new to the Jewel Quest concept. Of course, if you loved the first game and are craving a second helping, it's good for you too.