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iPhone Game Review: The Treasures of Montezuma 2
      12/05/09 03:29 PM

iPhone Game Review: The Treasures of Montezuma 2
Reviewed by JadeDragon

Just like the match-three game addicts can't stop playing them, the match-three developers can't resist making them. The Treasures of Montezuma 2 is the second game in this Alawar match-three game series, and it improves on graphics and game's difficulty levels from the first Montezuma game for the iPhone and iPod touch. What will stand out in the Montezuma 2 is the sheer depth of the gameplay that spans through 120 levels.

The Treasures of Montezuma 2 has the Aztec theme. As you progress through the levels in the Adventure mode, you will collect money to rebuild the ancient capital of the Aztecs and gain gods? favor along the way. If you are good to the gods, they will unlock incredible powers to help you complete the long journey.



Gameplay

The meat of The Treasures of Montezuma 2?s gameplay lies in the Adventure mode. In this mode, you play through three difficulty levels and each level has 5 groups of game, and each group has 8 match-three games and one hidden objects game. To complete a match-three game you must find the number of gems required to unlock the next level and make enough money to buy upgrades in the form of building the Aztec Town. The required number of gems increases in each progressing level and in each difficulty group. This means the first level in the Normal mode might require 5 gems to move on, but by the time you reached the Difficult mode the first level will require 135 gems to unlock future levels. The level design provides an easy entry for the casual and novice players yet enough challenge for the veterans to keep on playing.

In addition to the Adventure mode, The Treasures of Montezuma 2 also has the Endless and Puzzle modes. The Endless mode is a supplement to the Adventure mode in a way as the levels and the gameplay are all very similar except the scoring method. In Adventure mode you are playing against a timer; the quicker you can get all the gems the more money you make and the higher scores you earn, and when the tiles have no more moves, the board reshuffles to keep the game going (in most levels). In the Endless mode, there is no timer. The only thing you need to worry about is that when the tiles have no more moves, the level starts from the beginning and you loose all the gems you?ve found and the big score you?ve earned. Ouch! The Puzzle mode works very differently from the Adventure and Endless modes, it?s like a Bubble Break type of gameplay. You must group the same colored tiles together to get the gems embedded in certain tiles, but once the existing tiles run out there is no adding fresh tiles. You either get all the gems using the current tiles or you restart the level.



The Treasures of Montezuma 2 offers many power-ups, a couple of obstacles and ton of achievement items. The score scheme and the power-ups make the game shine. When you eliminate the tiles they crumble into sand and fall to the bottom of the screen (a thin strip of sandbox). If you can active a string of matching tiles you can earn high scores and money. And if you can fill up the sandbox, you will trigger Score Frenzy that doubles your points. The game unlocks the power-ups (the totems come bearing gifts) as you move through the levels and once you unlock the totems you unlock the power they bring. Some will shoot fireballs that shatter all the tiles in an area, some will give you more time on the clock and others can even change the colors of the tiles. You active their powers by moving the same colored tiles in two or more continuous moves. In the early levels the totems powers are that important, but once you are in the more difficult levels in the Adventure mode and the Endless mode, these power-ups are often essential to your survival and earning big scores. Just make sure you buy the totems and bonuses in town as quickly as you can. The game doesn?t have a lot of obstacles. It has frozen tiles which requires two matches to eliminate (first match to unfreeze and the second match to eliminate) and the frozen tiles can?t move, so you will need to move the tiles around the frozen ones to make the match. Another obstacle is a dark (dead) tile which doesn?t match anything (not even themselves) but they can be moved.



Graphics

One of the biggest changes in the Montezuma 2 from the original Montezuma for the iPhone and iPod touch is the user interface. The Montezuma 2 turns the gameplay screen into landscape, a really good move considering this design gives a nice space on the left to the totems animation, timer and more.

The Treasures of Montezuma 2 has eye-catching graphics thanks to the 3D shading effects, and the animation of gems exploding and crumbling into sand is well done. The scenes from the 5 hidden object games look very pretty with jungle themes as surroundings and Aztec stone statues as the centerpieces. And you get a feeling that the developer put a lot of care when they designed the non-in-game graphics as well: the title screens, menu screens and the Aztec capital town also look very polished with lots of details.

Sound

The Treasures of Montezuma 2 offers both background music and sound effects, both can be turned off and has in-game volume adjustment. The music style is island jungle run music and it integrates with sound effects as neither is jarring or distractive. There is a good amount of sound effects accompanying tile explosions, gem collecting and different power-ups.

Pro:
-Eye catching graphics
-Ton of gameplay that will keep you busy for a long time
-Level design is right on target for both novice players and veterans

Con:
-Game has a bug that some times prevents the board adding more tiles, and effectively hangs the game. This happens in both Adventure and Endless modes.



Conclusion

The Treasures of Montezuma 2 is a game that will please both the casual players who just want to pick up a match-three game and play once in a while, and the serious players who will dig in and complete all the levels and collection all the achievements. Believe me, there are mountainous numbers of levels to play and achievements to collect. The graphics and animations are polished and the landscape UI is the right move. If you are even a match-three player, The Treasures of Montezuma 2 should be an attractive game with straightforward, highly rewarding and long lasting gameplay.


Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: -5- Eye catching graphics and even menu screens have lots of details.
Sound: - 4- Island jungle music that integrates with sound effects.
Controls: - 4.5 - Very smooth touch control.
Gameplay: - 4.5 - Massive amount of gameplay. More than worth the money you will spend on it. The game has good level difficulty design, but it does have a bug that hangs the game once in a while.

Playing Hints and Tips:

-Trigger Score Frenzy by filling up the sandbox at the bottom. Don?t wait for the tiles all settle down, just keep sliding to add more matches in a short period of time.

-The faster you complete a level, the more gold you will earn. So look for those gems and get them first.

-Buy totems and bonuses in the Town map as soon as you have the money. They give you more power-ups.

App Facts:
Developer: Alawar Entertainment
Release Date: Nov 19, 2009
Price: $1.99
Buy App: iTunes App Store

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