Saturday night and I'm calling to cancel the escort? What's up with that? Why, it's Jewelry Master Twinkle Light, "the game kind of like a date!" Arika's latest release is a stripped down, 80 points priced version of its Jewelry Master Twinkle, released on December 26, 2009 for 400 points. Jewelry Master Twinkle is an excellent puzzle game which as its theme allows players to escort any of three girls on a date, "escorting" here meaning moving stuff around in a well to score points and avoiding a game over so that the date ends on a high note. The "Light" version that is the focus of this review is basically the same game without the extra two girls and difficulty modes available, offering players a mostly intact great puzzle game at a fraction of the cost.
Arika is a professional Japanese Developer formed from ex-Capcom employees founded by Akira Nishitani, who helped create Street Fighter II. Jewelry Master Twinkle Light exudes such professionalism with an attractive array of backdrops and modes. The game maintains a nice high score list, features an excellent in-game manual, saves replays of your games, and even includes a screen saver. Beyond the user interfaces, the game utilizes high resolution artwork to dress up its well-based puzzle gameplay, and while there's nothing particularly amazing about the display, Jewelry Master Twinkle is a solid looking puzzle game which manages to look terrific despite the pared down extraneous content of its higher priced sibling. A vertical well puzzle game leaves a lot of empty space on a widescreen display, and although the whole date theme may not appeal to everyone, it's a nice way to fill in that space with attractive graphics that complement the action without distracting the player.
OK, that's nice and all, but what about the game? Jewelry Master is quite similar to Cleopatra Fortune, which is to say Tetris with other junk in the well. While the basic rules of Tetris apply, the goal of the game is to encase jewels within blocks. Pieces drop from the top of the screen in Tetris-style configurations made up of blocks, gems, or more often a combination of the two. A high score generally involves creating the largest possible gem and then sealing it away, but that can prove risky as it leaves players little room to manuever falling pieces around the screen. Clearing the screen of jewels increases the game's level and moves the "date" along, the girl chiming in with a new line of English dialogue and minute changes in facial expression. The date ends after 999 levels of jewel burying action, at which point the player's high score is recorded. Though the score system can be complex with lots of shifting pieces and colors to track, the game is perfectly enjoyable for any puzzle fan.
Jewelry Master Twinkle Light is easily worth the $1 asking price, but it's too bad that Arika didn't release the original at that price or even the $2.50 price point, because I don't think the full version offers enough over this "reduced" edition to see many players looking to upgrade. While it can't quite measure up to Cleopatra Fortune, Jewelry Master Twinkle Light is a very good game in its own right, offering more than enough gameplay to entice puzzle game fans regardless if they're familiar with this style of play.