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iPad Game Review: Joan Jade and the Gates of Xibalba HD
      #39787 - 01/25/11 10:47 PM

iPad Game Review: Joan Jade and the Gates of Xibalba HD
Reviewed by JadeDragon

Joan Jade and the Gates of Xibalba HD by Alawar isn't your typical hidden objects game. It's like Lara Croft Tomb Raider without the guns. You will explore ancient ruins, secret caves and hidden passages; each step is met with a puzzle and every scene you visit hides mysteries. In Joan Jade and the Gates of Xibalba for the iPad, hidden objects gameplay takes a backseat and puzzle solving is at the center of this suspenseful title.


Many hidden objects games have a story where someone is gone missing and it's up to the hero or heroine to go after the missing person and encounter all the mysteries. Joan Jade sort of follows this formula but adds an unseen pressure: her two young kids are missing, kidnapped by strangers. With authorities moving at too slow a pace, Joan Jade embarks on a journey by herself to follow the clues her kids and their kidnappers left behind and finds herself climbing the ancient Mayan ruins, exploring watery caves and trekking through thick jungles. The storyline puts a nice pace to the gameplay where you feel more and more urgent that Joan Jade must find her kids soon.

Unlike many hidden objects games, Joan Jade & the Gates of Xibalba HD has more puzzles in gameplay than hidden objects. Don?t get me wrong, there are still over 240 hidden objects in the game to satisfy your searching need. But that part of the gameplay seems to go fast because what you are finding often serve a greater purpose; whether it?s for opening a door to a temple or making a raft to cross a lake, etc. You will spend a lot of time solving puzzles in order to gain passages to go further. There are over 80 puzzles in the game, ranging from memory puzzles, to block moving puzzles to word puzzles and more. As you go deeper into the game, the puzzles get increasingly more difficult.

Besides the puzzle boards and hidden objects gameplay, you will also need to bring out your mystery solving skills in exploration part of the game. When you go into one of the 30 locations in the game, you often have to figure out what you need to do and search for clues for your kids? whereabouts. You get an inventory in the game where you can store useful items from your hidden objects gameplay. And you have to figure out what you can do with these objects, i.e. you can use the machete to cut tree branches or clear a path in the jungle, or you can use heavy rock to open stone door levers or burn red gems into black gems in fire, etc. The game offers clues for every part of the gameplay, so if you find yourself wondering what you should do next, feel free to hit the Hint button on the top left.

Graphics & Sound

Joan Jade & the Gates of Xibalba HD looks surreally sharp on the iPad. Bright colors and ultra sharp buildings and objects dominate the scenes, and each location has its own look. The non in-game scenes and splash screens have a cell shading style that?s become trendy in hidden objects games, and they also look great. The graphics feel very polished and come in a complete package.

The eye-catching graphics are accompanied by dramatic sound tracks peppered with some new age style tracks that go well with mystery solving gameplay. Music arrangements fit the gameplay and environment well, and some times make you feel like you are in a movie. There is also a full set of sound FX and it comes on in puzzles and certain places in hidden objects scenes. They are nicely designed and well placed.


Joan Jade & the Gates of Xibalba HD for iPad breaks the mold a bit, blending hidden objects, puzzle and adventure gameplay together into a unique gaming experience. The game has a fast paced action feel to it which is rare in this type of games. Scenes are absolutely beautiful and puzzles are well designed with polished UIs and attractive game pieces. Touch control completely works on the iPad and the game offers many hours of solid game time. This is a great title if you need a brain twister and a wonderful title to play with your kids.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 5 - Graphics are sharp and colorful.
Sound: - 4.5 - Variety of music from dramatic to new age-y. No iPod music support.
Controls: - 5 - Touch control works flawlessly and intuitive.
Gameplay: - 5 - Varied gameplay that will take hours to complete.

Playing Hints and Tips:

- If you see something shiny, touch it. It often is something you can pick up or somewhere you need to use inventory item.

- If you have stuff in the inventory, you can touch on it and the game will show you gears on the screen where you can use the item on. So if you are stuck, just try everything you have.

App Facts:

Developer: Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: Dec 30, 2010
Price: $4.99
Buy App: Joan Jade & the Gates of Xibalba HD


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