Yet another game in the match-3 genre, Power Gems is quite a bit deeper. Although it may look like a Bejeweled clone, it is a completely different game. If you like mindless match-3s, then this is not for you; this involves a quite a bit more thought.
Power Gems functions like your basic match-3, swap gems to make rows of 3 or more. How it stands out is in what you match and the items you can use. There are 5 different colored gems, each with its own rune. You can only match gems of the same color, but matching gems with the same runes unleashes a spell. The number of matching runes in a swap determines the intensity of the spell. The three runes are ice, fire, and lightning. Matching three ice runes will cause the row or column to freeze and shatter, while matching 4 will cause both the row and column to be destroyed. Three matching fire runes will explode and destroy nearby gems; bigger matches increase the blast radius. A lightning match will create an arc of lightning that travels to adjacent gems of the same color and destroys them; the higher levels of this spell increases the arc's range of reach. After matching runes, a power-up is usually created. There a total of ten different power-ups. Each one has its own uses and are critical to make progress in the game.
There are 4 different game modes: Classic, Frantic, 100, and Eternal. The Classic mode requires the most strategy and thinking. For every move you make, your energy bar depletes. It starts off easy, but the difficulty ramps up rather quickly; cascades of spells are an absolute must. Frantic is the same as Classic with the exception that your energy bar depletes constantly. In 100, you have 100 seconds to make moves. During a cascade or spell, the timer stops. If you can keep making chains, you could play a game of 100 well over 4 minutes. Last but not least, there is Eternal. This game mode is for the players looking for a relaxing, risk-free game. In Eternal, you just simply make matches; there is no objective or way to lose.
Power Gems has two methods of swapping gems; slide two adjacent gems, or tap one and then the other. Both work well, but sliding can sometimes cause gems to move in the wrong direction; it just might be a little over sensitive.
Each game mode has its own OpenFeint leaderboard. While it may become dull or repetitive, the leaderboards will make you want to reach the top, or defend your spot.
Graphics & Sound
The spells are flashy and look great. Not much lacking in graphics other than the actual gems; they look fine, but they don't really shine.
The music isn't necessarily bad, but there is only one track. The loop in it is pretty noticeable and can get annoying rather quickly. Thankfully there is a volume adjuster in the main to mute the game's music and listen to your own.
There isn't much that can be said on sound effects, but one thing that really seemed to stand out was the cascading. The higher your chain is, the higher pitched the gem matching sound is.
The match-3 has been done many times before, but this is a fresh experience. With 10 different power-ups and four game modes, Power Gems stands out from the rest. The name may be a bit generic, but is worth the $1.99.
Graphics: 4 The spells look great, but the energy bar's glow looks "blocky". Sound: 3 One repetitive track and generic sound effects. Controls: 5 I don't think there is anything that can be improved, controls work great. Gameplay: 5 A match-3 that requires thought and planning; four game modes and leader boards help to stop it from getting too repetitive.
Playing Hints and Tips:
? You are almost penalized for matching gems without the same runes, try to avoid this as much as possible. ? Save your power-ups until you absolutely have to use them, or they can make a spell chain. ? In Frantic and 100, any match is a good match; the timer freezes giving you a chance to look for better moves or find where to use an item. ? Matching gems of 4 or 5 will not even get you half of what 3 matched runes will.
Spot on, Austin, I really liked this one too! Sneaky tip there for Frantic, I didn't even think of that one (freezing the countdown in this case being much more important than a big scoring move like it is in the other modes).