Monday, April 26, 2010

Review: AFROian Jewels

I don't know what it is about hairstyles, everyone has their own, and I think some other people even take them upon themselves to make their hair look like a piece of art (and I mean it, I'm sure I saw someone with a haircut like the Eiffel Tower the other day...). But whatever style someone has, it either makes or breaks the look as a whole, and in this case it is no different.

I don't know what it is about Afros, and more specifically, what the dev of this game has with them, but he (or she) has definitely made sure to represent them is a really nice way, and in really nice games.

AFROian Jewels is a rather simple at glance, hard to master game. In it, vertical "blocks" consisting of 3 differently colored afros fall from the sky, and you get to choose the order in the colors in the block before they fall to the bottom and stay there. The objective is simple, match 3 or more of the same colored afros, and humans will pop out from them and leave the screen, this includes the basic colors, plus the powerups that come in form of white afros that dissapear every afro of the same color than the one they fell on top of. From that, as in any game from the genre, you make chains and combos by foreseeing a bit if your moves, or just being plain lucky, to move up your score and after a set amount of points, you move up a level, moment in which speed increases (like classic tetris).

To mix things up a bit, now and then an Afronian will "wake up" from one of the afros and take up two spaces, which may ruin the whole setup you had, so it is nice to keep a surprise factor there. It has also been informed that in higher difficulties other environmental factors, like UFOs and such, also come in play to keep things even more interesting. But there's where I found a problem, I don't know if I'm inherently slow, or if I'm always sleepy or something, but once I advance even 1 level, the speed picks up so much that I find it really hard to keep up, to the point that, even though I've played several times, I've only made it to level 4, so I don't know if I'll ever see those higher difficulties. This, clearly, can be awesome to some that complain that games take too long to pick up speed, but might turn off less finger-happy people.

There are also many other things that don't seem very clear at first (or at all) so I'd think the presence of a tutorial to explain the score system, the chaining system and the powerups is something very welcome.

Other than that, I find this game to be thoroughly enjoyable, it starts simple and keeps adding enough twists to make you wonder what will pop out next, that way, if you can get used to the speed, this game can be really fun and rewarding, but if you can't, seeing the fact that you can't advance and staying in the very basic levels could be really frustrating.

Other thing I could complain about is that there's no direct control on the column, all must be done from the controllers on the side of the screen, taking away intuitiveness to the game, factor that, in a reflex based game like this one, can be decisive.

Bottom line is, if you're a fan of the AFRO games, and a fan of fast-paced puzzles, I really recommend this one as it a nice spin on the basic formula. But if you can't keep up to speed, well, this is definitely not for you. For $0.99, you definitely can't go wrong giving this charismatic game a chance.

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