Lately I’ve been more focused on RPG hybrids when it comes to my match 3 experiences (like Dungeon Story), but I’m all for a good old fashioned pure match 3 romp, given the right game. Sadly, those options don’t come along much any more. Now we have Jelly Duel, however, and my faith in the genre is slowly returning. Unfortunately, this game will only do you some good if you have WiFi or data connectivity since it is an online offering. Still, as much as I don’t like “connected” gaming, I’m seeing a lot of potential in Jelly Duel.
The basics of a match 3 game, just in case you don’t know, are that you swap two adjacent tiles on the board so that you make a match of at least 3 of one kind of tile. In this case if you match 4 or more of a similar tile type you’ll create a special tile which when matched with it’s same color gives you a bonus, usually along the lines of clearing several extra pieces of the board. For Jelly Duel matching pieces means earning points, which in turn raises the water level on your board. Since every game in Jelly Duel is a two player match, the person with the highest score at the end of a minute wins. If you completely fill your board with water you’ve reached the point goal for that board, which means you automatically win.
If you’re like me, simply getting a better score than the other player isn’t enough – you want to mess with them while you’re playing. As you continue to win games you rank up which in turn unlocks “helpers”. You have to pay each game that you want to use these helpers, which can be done by spending coins that you earn by winning matches or via IAP purchases. The first couple of helpers give you the ability to freeze a portion of the other player’s screen as well as slow down how quickly the pieces move when being swapped and when falling. There are 5 different helpers to unlock, but you can only use two at a time.
The biggest issue is the fact that the game has to be played online. I don’t believe I’ve had a problem ever connecting initially, but there have been several occasions where I’ve been kicked off after one or two matches and not been able to get back online for a while. I also think it would be nice if the payoff for winning was a bit more graduated. For the most part it seems like you always win 20 coins, and it’s not clear why you win more when you do. Finally, it seems a bit weird to me that you start a rank with two stars filled in. When you move up ranks you should have to earn all 5 stars for the next rank, and when you lose a rank you should start with all the stars you had earned for that rank. You can play against random opponents or hand picked friends, and at this point your best bet is to hook up with a friend.
The visuals are pretty decent, falling roughly mid-range when it comes to flash and sparkles. I do like the designs of the different helpers and the fact that they cry (or at least that’s what it looks like) when they are ready to be used. The sound effects aren’t too bad, especially when it comes to the brief maniacal laughter after you’ve unleashed a helper. The music is upbeat but pretty much gets drowned out by all the action, as you probably won’t notice it while you’re busy trying to beat your opponent.
Jelly Duel can be quite entertaining. It does get frustrating that there’s no single player mode, especially when you lose your connection. Still, there’s nothing like running neck and neck with an opponent, particularly when you can see their progress the whole time. And the fact that there’s no social interaction required makes it my kind of online game. It could use a bit of refinement in a couple of spots, but overall it’s a very solid multi-player experience that you won’t find elsewhere in iPhone match 3 games.
|Title:||Jelly Duel||Developer:||Mega Studio|
|Reviewed Ver:||Min OS Req:||4.3|