Match three games have become something of a DS staple as of late, with a new variation being released seemingly once a month - and it's not without good reason. Easy to pick up and play, with that "one more go" quality in spades, we know plenty of people who have serious trouble weaning themselves from the latest and greatest, and can't wait to pick up the next one. None less so than our Editor's own mum, in fact, who likes certain match 3 games so much, she's ended up buying them twice (admittedly accidentally) - so she'll likely be particularly interested in the latest offering, Jewel Link: Legends of Atlantis.
Jewel Link also throws a handful of awkwardness your way, as the levels are scattered with all sorts of obstacles and special tiles, designed to make finding, and matching those groups of three that much harder. Some gems are locked up by one or two chains that can only be broken by including that gem in a match, or you might encounter some purple bricks that can only be destroyed by making a match next to them – these differences add a bit of variety to the standard gameplay, but sometimes seem to go a bit overboard and end up blocking half of the board off, leaving you to struggle making the only matches you can see over the opposite side of the board until the time runs out.
Each level is set against the clock, with a timer constantly ticking away at the side of the screen to provide you with a little more incentive to make as many matches as you can, as quickly as you can. While the time limit can be a bit frustrating at times, there are a number of things Jewel Link does to make it easier for you. For starters, after each game over you get the option to add an extra five minutes of time to the clock to give you some more breathing room. You also have a series of special moves you can deploy that destroy blocks, shuffle gems and, most usefully, give you even more time – although their use isn't indefinite, and is dependent on you having some charges stored in your magic crystal, which charges as you make matches.
One welcome addition to the game are the 'Trophies', which are a series of challenges to complete (much like the Xbox 360's achievement system). With tasks like completing a level in less than 40 seconds, matching six or more icons and solving twenty levels without using any special powers, they offer an incentive to come back and play some more once you've finished. Which you will, if you're anything like us, as you find yourself pouring hours in going for that elusive final award (damn you Puzzle Bobble Universe and your 'Score 3 million points in 100 second bubbles' achievement...).
If you're after a budget priced puzzle game to pass a few hours Jewel Link: Legends of Atlantis does what it does well, with some hundred levels of match three addictiveness. If you're all match-3'd out, perhaps it's time to make Legends of Atlantis your next time sink.