Kingdom of Gnester in Review: The Best of Both Worlds

Puzzle games are incredibly versatile – whether as standalone offerings, or incorporated into other games, you will find a fair share of them in the App Store. It’s quite tricky to pull off a story-driven hybrid type of puzzle game but Kingdom of Gnester does just that.

Kingdom of Gnester is a match three puzzle game and a platformer at the same time. Gnester has just inherited the Capacube, a magical cube on which rests the fate of his kingdom. Mastery of the Capacube entails an important journey to survive the dangers that await him.

There are three game modes: Story, Puzzle and Gnester’s farm. The story mode combines two different types of games: the match three and a side scrolling platformer. Basically, you have to match tiles to activate important power ups (jump, duck, shoot, etc.) as quickly and efficiently as possible to help Gnester hurdle obstacles in his path and collect golden gnomes in order to purchase upgrades.

Most match three games operate just on swapping tiles that are adjacent to each other on the puzzle board. Gnester, on the other hand, deviates from the norm by changing the rules a bit. Gnester has the ability to swap pieces from anywhere on the board to form matching tiles, giving one greater freedom to match tiles with relatively less difficulty. While it is concededly easier to swap and create matching sets of tiles, it’s difficult to do that while keeping track of Gnester’s movements.

Kingdom of Gnester works on many levels. There’s a little something for everyone. The story mode challenges your ability to focus and multitask, while the puzzle mode is a genuine puzzle pleasure. I got hooked more on playing the puzzle mode to collect as many golden gnomes as I can, though the story mode is just as interesting and exciting – it’s the platformer aspect that sets Gnester apart from the rest of the pack. As for Gnester’s Ranch, I’m not too sure what it’s about or what its purpose really is with respect to the story – it strikes me as the cherry on top: a little bonus that you can enjoy separately, thanks to the cute animals and plants that populate the ranch.

The colorful graphics, artwork and design are nicely cartoonish and thoroughly charming. In many ways, Gnester looks and feels like it’s straight out of a children’s storybook – I especially like the odd assortment of animals that Gnester encounters throughout his journey. The music and effects effectively contribute to the rousing adventure spirit that the game evokes. Game controls are smooth and responsive, and I like the variety of actions you can perform.

Open Feint integration is good for showing off points and achievements unlocked, but it’s a bit distracting when it pops up in the middle of a game. The puzzle board could be a little bigger and up the challenge mode a bit. While the tutorial is fairly comprehensive, it could use a little tweaking to explain more explicitly how the different elements and game modes all mesh together to form a unified whole. Also, while the hybrid match three-platformer is incredibly appealing, the way Gnester divides your attention tends to draw one away from appreciating fully the platformer aspect. The puzzle mode is excellent and incredibly addictive, largely because of the incentive of collecting golden gnomes faster. Without the story and a sense of purpose, Gnester would not otherwise stand out from the rest.

Still, what’s great about this game is how it melds two different game genres and offers a solid, challenging and incredibly entertaining game experience. The depth and quality of this game is astonishing, and frankly, I am surprised it’s not getting the kudos it deserves.

App Summary
Title: Kingdom of Gnester Developer: Another Castle Studios inc.
Reviewed Ver: 1.1 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $1.99 App Size: 75.5 MB
  • Excellent combination of match three and platformer
  • Excellent puzzle mode: one of the few I’ve truly enjoyed and played for hours
  • Plenty of upgrades, achievements and other bonuses
  • Polished graphics, sounds and gameplay
  • Occasionally intrusive Open Feint notification
  • Tutorial needs to clarify the unifying theme/purpose of the game modes with respect to the main game


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