REVIEW: JewellCity

As far as videogames go, both Sim City and Tetris are part of the lingua franca. Almost everyone has at least heard of them, if not played them to death in some form or port on one system or another. Pairing the two play styles into one ‘supergame’ sounds like a super idea. In fact, we’ve seen it on XBLIG before, with City Rain. Now we get a more traditional Tetris-like (and more yellow1) version from developer LittleGreenBob, with JewellCity ($1.00).

JewellCity - Screen

See this, kids? Take notes. It will be on the test.

And like Tetris, the idea here is simple, but layered. Randomized block sets fall from the top of the screen, and it’s up to you to do your best ‘valet’ impression and park those blocks in the most appropriate (and lucrative) open space. Each block costs money to play, and represents a ‘city piece’, with specific tiles for homes, shops, parks, factories, electricity, etc. As in real life, the key to building and maintaining a thriving city lies in making said city attractive to incoming tenants. Drop housing blocks next to lakes and shops, and watch your population swell. Put them by dirty factories or near a power plant, and you’ll find you can’t give the property away.

Just don’t stack too much of a good thing. Your instincts will tell you to drop the blocks in rows and attempt to ‘match’ them, but matching ‘three of a kind’ is verboten in JewellCity, and liable to trigger the very foundation of your city to come crashing down around you. Should you align three of one block type in a row or on a diagonal, those tiles will disappear, potentially taking some of your revenue— and destroying other tiles— in their wake. Clearing space and building anew is part of the process, sure, but separating whole parts of your city from a power source can have devastating effects.

JewellCity - Screen2

Even if you’re an excellent city planner, disasters (both natural and the man-made sort) will occur. Special ‘protection’ tiles can mitigate some of the damage, but often you’ll be reacting to random tiles and events just as much as you will be thinking about where to place the next block. This constant threat of trouble (and bankruptcy from overspending!2) gives the game an addictive quality, despite the amazingly-plain visuals and setup. Though besides a tally of your in-game stats and medals to be awarded, there’s little else to it.

Ultimately, you may not mind the singular focus. JewellCity won’t be winning any beauty awards anytime soon, but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in brains. Playing Mayor and turning your city into a well-oiled and well-funded machine— and keeping it that way— won’t be easy, but getting there is half the fun.

  1. Developer of EscapePod. Also heavily yellow-ish / yellow-brown. Seriously, what is it about that particular color? 
  2. China won’t be around to buy up your bad debt in JewellCity

28 thoughts on “REVIEW: JewellCity”

  1. I have to admit that I’m one of the few (?) people on this very planet who don’t like Tetris. Well, it’s actually worse than that, I always steer well clear of everything Tetris related. In fact I think it’s one of the most overrated games and never understood the hype behind it. I’m not saying it’s a bad game or concept, but it always baffles me when it pops up in ‘Best Games Of All Time’ articles. Really? And I did try to like it (or its 5 gazillion clones) but always got bored after three minutes. But what do I know?

    Now Sim City is a complete different beast. Loved to be a virtual mayor and there’s a certain enjoyment in watching your shabby village slowly transform into a metropolis (and fighting the problems that come with it).

    Call me stubborn but I have to give this one a pass.

    1. No shame in that. We don’t all like the same things. Although your bafflement baffles me. 🙂

      I don’t know where I’d rank Tetris on my personal best-of list, but it’s certainly one of the most important games to ever be created. Sim City along with it. It’s pick-up-and-play simplicity at its best, yet you don’t really get tired of it. As far as Tetris’ worth, I do the ‘brother’ test. My brother hates videogames. Hates them. Doesn’t understand the attraction. Yet, when we were kids, we’d fight over who got to wield the mighty Nintendo brick to play Tetris in all its puke-green glory. This is a kid that hates games otherwise, fighting like mad to play one. It has to be something special for that to occur. He also displays a tolerable interest in most Mario games, so again, that has to mean something. I’m not saying Nintendo sponsors dark magic, or practices witchcraft, but it’s clearly putting something in its games.

    2. Soosh and Tim….gotta ask….SimCity or Civiliazions. You can only choose one franchise which would you prefer to play?

      Tim you do realize that MDMA under a microscope sorta looks like Tetris. Just saying!!

    3. Hmm, makes sense. And here I was, believing them when they told me it was ‘vitamins’ they were giving me. Explains why I kept stripping my clothes off and singing Pharrell’s ‘Happy’, too. ….Never again.

      Oh, and easy pick. SimCity1. Why? Because I’ve never played a Civilizations game in my life. Glaring oversight on my part, but then again, it’s known more on the PC than console.

      1. Oh, and thanks for correcting my improper styling of SimCity. I always want to make it two words. 
    4. No Civilization game? You, my friend, are missing out on one of the greatest time sinks the gaming world has ever known.

    5. Andregurov Civ or SimCity?

      Tim you didn’t even pick up Revolution when it was free for Gold members on the 360? Man you must got give it a shot. The 360 version is slimmed down and made to be a faster game on the console but still as enjoyable as the others. I had a roommate get me into it back at Civ 2. We used to end up playing all night a lot. Just one more turn never ends.

    6. Civ all the way – its many incarnations have probably robbed me of 1500-2000 hours of my life (one … more … turn …). Civ Rev isn’t nearly as good as the PC versions, but it is still worth playing and makes for much quicker, less obsessive gaming. I haven’t played SimCity since back in the mid 90’s. The other great oldie-but-goodie is XCOM. I still play the original and Terror From the Deep nowadays (as well as the new and very, very good Xenonauts) .

    7. @Dream Poet & andregurov: Ah, I didn’t even know it was part of the ‘Games with Gold’ deal. Or maybe I did, but it didn’t register in my brain. I might’ve tried it then, but if it’s still a time sink, it’s probably for the best. The last thing I need is more distractions. 🙂 I’ll add it to the ‘winter list’, something to look into when I’ve got more free time.

    8. I don’t know where I’d rank Tetris on my personal best-of list, but it’s certainly one of the most important games to ever be created.

      Could you elaborate, please? (I’m just curious) 😛
      And you never, ever played Civ? Like… never? Reeeaaally? sigh

      @DreamPoet: Definitely Civ! Remember playing the first one in the early 90’s ‘til three or four in the morning and was “somehow” unable to attend school that day (“cough cough… oh, I don’t feel well mum, I better stay home today” waits for mum to leave room, fires up Civ).

      @andregurov: I think Apocalypse was decent, too. It somehow lacked the atmosphere of the first two X-Com games, but was still enjoyable.

    9. Yea I would choose Civ as well although I do have fond memories of the first time I saw SimCity. I had walked into a computer store (remember when they used to have those?) and not even sure what I was there for…maybe just browsing. But anyway one of the guys there got up from one of the display computers to help me and I asked him what he was playing on it and he didn’t need to get up since I was just browsing. He said it’s OK I need to let my city run on its own for awhile I’m trying build the largest city I can. I bet you can’t guess what I ended up walking out of there with?

      But Civ I must have spent more hours on than any other franchise in the history of my gaming period.

      Oh and Tetris was OK but it always felt foreign to me. Then I found out it was made in Russia and I boycotted it till Gorbichev teared down the wall. 😀

    10. Listen to you Civilization nerds go on and on. 😛 😉

      @Dream Poet: I actually got into SimCity in a similar way, watching people play in the computer lab at school (this was before the ‘enlightened’ age we live in now, where toddlers have their own tablets and laptops and social media accounts before they even go to school), then picking up the habit myself once we got a PC at home.

      @Soosh: Elaborate, you say? I just think it’s a ‘landmark’ game, important for its contributions to gaming and the impact it’s had on other designers / games, one that deserves its spot in the Hall of Fame. Even if it has Russian roots. 🙂

    11. Civ 4life, man 😎

      Regarding Tetris: See, that’s the thing I don’t understand. When it got released back in the day it didn’t bring anything new to the table. It was basically just about matching falling blocks, and I don’t see what’s so revolutionary about that. And most of the time you get the typical “Yeah, but a helluva lot of people played it” as the only explanation why it’s supposed to be one of the most influential games. Now one could say that it introduced countless non-gamers to the wonderful world of gaming, which is, to be honest, a fair point, but does that justify the claim that the game is the best damn thing since sliced bread?

      And what sort of impact did it have on other designers, apart from cloning that thing? And if that’s the only reason, then Flappy Birds must be one of the most important games ever.

      But don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s an insignificant pile of crap, because it’s not. It did have some sort of influence, agreed, and it did leave its mark, but in my opinion it’s not one of the most important, and certainly not one of the best games ever.

    12. And by those standards ““Yeah, but a helluva lot of people played it” as the only explanation why it’s supposed to be one of the most influential games. Now one could say that it introduced countless non-gamers to the wonderful world of gaming, which is, to be honest, a fair point, but does that justify the claim that the game is the best damn thing since sliced bread?” then one could make the argument that Candy Crush Saga has it’s place in history.

    13. @Dream Poet & @andregurov
      I’ve always loved the SimCity games. The original one blew me away when I first played it back in the day, and I was instantly hooked. The same thing happened when SimCity 2000 came out.
      I’ve never played any of the Civ games, when they first began to emerge, I was at a point when the idea of turn based gameplay in videogames was something that just didn’t interest me. I keep meaning to give them a go since I now quite enjoy turn based stuff, but the time-sink thing kind of scares me away each time.
      As for the old X-Com games (not including the newer Enemy Unknown), I bought all of them a couple of years back and tried desperately to get into them (I’d read so many positive reviews!). Now, I don’t often get properly angry at videogames, but those games made me livid! Having your carefully planned strategy completely ruined by your troops not being able to shoot accurately ever drove me insane! Such a shame really, as all other aspects of the game seemed awesome…

    14. And if that’s the only reason, then Flappy Bird must be one of the most important games ever.

      It is important, from a cultural standpoint. It could be argued that it too, introduced non-gamers into the fold. It’s also an addictive, yet maddening, game. Not a lot of depth, sure, but thousands would argue vehemently that it’s still a quality game. I think it’s alright. I’ve played better (and plenty of XBLIG clones 🙂 ), but I’ve definitely played worse.

      then one could make the argument that Candy Crush Saga has its place in history.

      It does, for the same reasons as Flappy Bird. I personally don’t like the game all that much, but again, you can’t argue against its addictive qualities, and plenty of people will attest to that.

      Back on Tetris, the same explanations apply, but it also goes beyond a culturally-significant game or influential game. For games like this, you have to see the big picture, the long effect its had. I’m not saying that Gaming as we know it wouldn’t exist today without Tetris, but certainly its DNA can be seen in a lot of stuff. Candy Crush, for example, Bejeweled, or JewellCity here. Tetris existed before the Game Boy, but would that system have done as well as it did without the game? Would it have made the same impact on gamers’ minds? Would certain games and mechanics have ever existed if not for Tetris? It’s a snowball effect. You can point to ‘proof’ in some spots, but the overall effect is harder to track. It’s there, though, trust me. (I’m not an expert, but I play one on the internet! 🙄 )

    15. Well, I’ve tried to see the big picture, but just couldn’t see it. And if we assume for a moment that Tetris never existed, those game mechanics would’ve popped up sooner or later in some form and flavour. I mean, we’re not talking about complicated mechanics here, but about falling blocks. It did have a cultural impact though, I give you that. But I still think it’s overrated 😛

      We talked so much about that game now, let’s watch some Tetris porn

    16. Ya’ll killin me here. Flappy Birds???

      Nice job Tim slipping this game we are commenting on into the conversation. 2 points on that one.

      So before this comment I watched the video..which was funny…I then read Andregurov comment saying “this game needs boobs” and I about lost it laughing so hard since it could have meant that video I just watched.

      Just to bring this convo back to good games again Civ and SimCity will always rate higher than any of these other games we are talking about. Even Super Mario Brothers beats them in a landslide.

    17. @Soosh: Haha, that’s funny shit right there. He should’ve made it more awkward for the kids and said ‘See! This is what your mother makes me do! This is all I have left, since she won’t even look at me since you damn kids were born!’

      @Edgar Alan: Good to know that someone’s got my back with SimCity! We’re still badly outnumbered by the ‘Civil’ folks, though.

      @Dream Poet: That’s probably going to be my vote for Most Influential / Greatest Game of All Time. Super Mario Bros. You could pick a few from the series to be serious contenders, but I’ll just keep it simple and stick with the NES original. Sure, it might’ve come about in some other form, and I’ll grant that Tetris would’ve showed up sooner or later, but come on… Mario. Without Mario, Nintendo doesn’t exist in its current form, if at all. And a lot of the platformers that have come out since Mario‘s introduction? They might not have been either. (Sonic? No such thing without Mario forcing their creative response.) Plus, the game is just damn fun to play. I picked up my Wii U finally, and I’ve hardly touched the other games I got with it. Just been playing Super Mario 3D World. Classic gaming that has only gotten better with age, hands down.

  2. This game badly needs boobs. Without them I have a hard time taking it seriously. All jest aside, it looks promising; I’ll have to try out the demo ‘cos it looks like one of those hidden jewels in the XBLIG. I really wish SOME of these type-games would make it to the Xbone. There is a shameful lack of puzzle/simulation games thus far on it. I assume that is the fallout of the success of IOS games: unless it features super HD visuals people just think puzzle games are a typical free IOS download. Good review, by the way.

    1. Think of the blocks as ‘square boobs’ with pictures on them. 😀

      Thank you, thank you. The Xbone could use some more of everything indie-related, agreed. They’re coming, it just seems like a slow build. Sad thing is, I’m impatient now, but when a bunch of games do get released, I feel swamped and push them to the side. Funny how that works out. Oh well, the eShop got Siesta Fiesta today. Strangely excited to play that one, considering it’s just a glorified brick breaker.

    2. I finally got my own 3DS XL last weekend so I don’t have to use the kids’ anymore; Siesta Fiesta looks quirky, colorful, challenging and will be my 1st 3DS eShop purchase. I’ve a soft spot for good brick breakers, and this appears to be one of them. I’m looking forward to the review on Indiepitome!

    3. Ah, you’re very own 3DS. Things are looking up in the ‘andregurov’ household. 🙂

      Same here. I still boot up Wizorb from time to time, just to get my ‘brick fix’. Hoping this game will do the same, and yeah, Indiepitome is due for a ‘bigger’ indie review. Been focusing on Playstation Mobile a bit too heavily. Thought about downloading Wooden Sen’Sey for the Wii U, but it’s actually a port of the old PC version, so really no need in rehashing existing reviews. Sony’s getting some cool stuff in August, so things’ll pick up then.

      XBLIG, on the other hand, is looking barren once again. 😦

  3. I was hoping you might review this one, as it looked quite interesting and I hadn’t had the time to check out the demo yet. So, thank you for doing so. Once again you’ve convinced me to make a purchase (with Amazing Princess Sarah, that makes it twice in the past fortnight!).

    Speaking of city building/puzzle mash-ups, Mega City is another one that’s worth a look. It’s somewhat limited, but good fun.

    1. Ah, the good old ‘fortnight’. Much prefer that term to the boring American ‘bi-weekly’ standard. Fortnight just sounds so much more… distinguished. 😀

      You’re completely welcome. Oh, and good catch on MegaCity, too. That one completely slipped my mind when writing this one up, and I do remember playing the demo now. Damn memory, always forgetting things…

  4. Sounds more interesting than it looked at first glance but how does it compare to CityRain? I did not enjoy that game as much as I expected I would being a Ma(y)or SimCity fan.

    I really did enjoy EscapePod which as you mentioned was made by LittleGreenBob. What color pallet do you expect someone with that name to use otherwise anyways?

    1. If you go by his developer name, I’d expect everything to be, well…. GREEN! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

      So far as how it compares to City Rain, they both use the Sim City template with the ‘stacking’ component of Tetris. This is from watching a trailer / gameplay of City Rain, BTW, as I have not personally played it. If you didn’t like City Rain, you probably won’t like this one, as it looks to me like it has less depth. And certainly less visual splendor. 🙂

      Simple or not, I had fun tooling around in it, so it gets my thumbs up.

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