Gaming to Go: The Quest Trio (p2)

The first of the trio is Jewel Quest Solitaire, which takes Solitaire and Bejeweled and mashes them together into a strangely compelling mix. The premise is simpler than it sounds: you're given one deck, referred to as the foundation pile, and an overturned card next to it. Above that you'll have cards spread out in a variety of formations, most of them overturned until you can use the few cards atop each particular stack. You can add a card to your foundation pile so long as its value is either one above or one below the card currently overturned next to the pile. You'll keep adding cards to the pile until the remaining numbers out on the field don't fall into the required range, at which point you'll flip over the next card in your foundation pile and hope for the best. The number of cards in your foundation pile is limited, so you'll want to remove as many cards from the field as you can before needing to flip.

If that description has you scratching your head, breathe easy. A tutorial is included with the game, but it's unnaturally lengthy, so I'd advise just diving right in and seeing for yourself how everything works out. Playing is much easier than it probably seems, and it's pretty fun, too, especially once you throw the jewels into the mix. Every time you add a card to your foundation pile, a jewel for whatever suit that card is will fall into a board on the top screen. Once you've removed every card from the field, the board will take over and give you a limited number of turns to start swapping. Clearing a set of three jewels will turn the spaces beneath them gold, and you'll want to turn every space on the board that same color. You'll receive a sizable boost to your score for the effort.

Having a board full of the same gems will help quite a bit, obviously, which adds an element of strategy to the card play. You'll want to keep a careful eye on the suits you're removing from the field, as it's best to keep the cards you're pulling off in the same suit instead of bouncing back and forth between suits just to get the next sequential number. This is another intuitive process you'll lock in to the moment you encounter it in the game, so take another deep breath if my long-winded description has you a little worried.

Jewel Quest Solitaire is surprisingly fun, once you wrap your mind around the rules, and it's pretty quick, too, once you get going. More rules and gameplay tweaks are added as you progress through the game, all of which help add layers of depth without bogging down the flow noticeably.

The second of the trio is Jewel Quest Expeditions, which is pretty much a straight rip of Bejeweled with the rule set of the jewel board mentioned above. As the name implies, you'll be matching shiny jewels as you go throughout the adventure, though things like gold coins and buried jewels give you a bit more to do beyond the basic. Matching up three gold coins will give you a special move for moments of desperation, while buried jewels have to be matched up with two of the same color of jewel before they're unearthed. They're nice enough deviations from the basic gameplay to keep things interesting, and can even add a little challenge to the proceedings, a welcome addition to what would otherwise be a simple quest to turn every space on the board gold and move on to the next level.

The last game in the trio is Mah Jong Quest Expeditions, a simple game of Mahjong solitaire coupled with a few additions to the basic formula. You're still matching two tiles together to remove them from the board, but now you have delightful things like balloons and dynamite to deal with. They don't revolutionize the gameplay by any means, but they're still welcome inclusions to an already solid game of Mahjong. There's also a puzzle mode that tasks you with clearing out a specific layout of tiles using basic Mahjong tiles, and even a Classics mode that includes numerous more games of Mahjong solitaire at varying difficulties minus the tweaks found in the regular Quest mode.

The main complaints with this version of Mahjong are the size of the tiles, which is admittedly pretty small, and the absolutely atrocious menu, which throws a few strange icons your way and forces you to try and get to where you want to go by trial and error. It's an utter pain in the ass to maneuver until you memorize which icon does what, and a completely unnecessary addition to the game, especially when plain text would have removed any guesswork at all. Still, if you can swallow the fact that the menu is an awful game itself, there's a fun and solid game of Mahjong beneath it, one that's just as well-suited for gaming on the go as the other two titles in the trio.


This article was originally published on Joystiq.