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).
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.
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.