Jewel Quest Solitaire

Should we ever happen to book a holiday to Mexico, stop us. We might be being paranoid here, but from the impression given by certain mobile phone games we've played, it seems like a rather unpleasant place to visit.

If you're not getting shot up by gangsters, you're stumbling across lost civilisations in the jungle and having to work your way out of a tight spot with… a pack of cards.

Yep, in contrast to the heavy ordnance employed by the Mexico-based Total Overdose, when faced with miffed locals in Jewel Quest Solitaire you whip out a deck of playing cards and proceed to play solitaire.

Aside from putting your personal well-being at risk by not arming yourself profusely, you're making things worse by playing a game that excludes all of your new acquaintances. Oh well.

It's a good job, then, that Jewel Quest Solitaire is actually very entertaining to play, even if you'd normally give solitaire the kind of wide berth usually reserved for spear-wielding natives.

Based on the card game that involves removing the cards dealt face up in front of you in numerical order until they're all gone, it's strangely compelling. This is largely thanks to two features.

The first is the rapidity of the game. Arranged into four chapters, each of which boasts eight levels, Jewel Quest Solitaire can be played as quickly or slowly as you want. This means that if you're playing for puzzle value alone, you can blast through a chapter in around an hours' play.

If you're a perfectionist – and there are big points bonuses for completing levels in suit order, for example – then you can take your time and play with all of the strategy and tactics that can be applied to solitaire.

The second factor in Jewel Quest Solitaire's favour is the bonus mini-games that take place in between levels of card playing. After each completed hand, you're presented with a traditional Jewel Quest board and you can play to turn all of the squares gold for even more bonus points.

Jewel Quest is one of many puzzle games that involve making columns or rows of similarly coloured jewels. Make a row or column and the jewels disappear, turning the squares they inhabited to gold. You re-arrange the jewels on the board by selecting one and swapping its position with a neighbour.

The number of swaps you have is directly linked to how well you did in the prior hand of solitaire, so do well and you'll have plenty of swaps to turn the board gold. Fare poorly and you'll have fewer moves available to you, meaning each swap needs to count.

The two games combined manage to add enough entertainment to make Jewel Quest Solitaire seriously worth considering. After all, you are (just about) getting two games for the price of one. Even though neither is really that entertaining on its own (the version of Jewel Quest featured here is a cut-down one), they work well together here.

It means that Jewel Quest Solitaire is ideal if you're hankering after a puzzle game, but aren't sure what to go for. It'll keep you busy for a fair old while, as the solitaire hands get progressively more difficult, as do the Jewel Quest interludes, and each serves to keep the other feeling fresh.

If you're going to be hacked to death by itinerant rainforest Indians, there are worse ways to go.

Jewel Quest Solitaire

A marriage of two traditional puzzle games to create a strong offspring that follows in the family tradition