Tag Archives: LittleGreenBob (Developer)

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

REVIEW: EscapePod

You should know by now. Always rushing around, whoring yourself out to the highest bidder just to get a meal or pay off perpetually-increasing debts, Life is a rat race. Or, to put it another way, a mad dash to a limited number of exit ramps, just to be one of the lucky few to live (and complain) another day. Though it doesn’t actually use this depressing view of human existence for its background noise, EscapePod ($1.00) is basically the digital equivalent of the idea in the purest form…

EscapePod - Screen

…as no matter the stage number or the pieces placed on the ‘board’, the objective remains steadfastly the same; get to the lone escape pod before the smiling alien does, in the (preferably) fewest amount of steps as possible. Think of it like Spaceballs’ escape sequence (minus the man in the bear suit) on repeat. The tiles in each level represent a potential path, and each path is one move in a grander game of chess.

Don’t let that simple requirement or the banal graphics lure you into a false sense of superiority, though. EscapePod may not be much (or, really, anything) to look at, but underneath its lackluster surface is some truly cunning, deceptive puzzle design that rivals the best on the service, in terms of making you appear stupid. Follow this free advice— The shortest and / or most obvious route is not always the right route, and watch as its complexity spirals outwards from there.

EscapePod - Screen2

While the first set of levels keep it relatively simple, asking to you to occasionally race towards a key or a spike-swapping switch to throw your alien pal off his own route, later worlds introduce new considerations, such as one-move escalators, running lava, eventually-exploding fire barrels, etc., each with their own unique properties and pitfalls. All of this needs to navigated with you on a running timer, naturally, but the game has unlimited sympathy for your inevitable mistakes, allowing you to retry (or skip) the more frustrating sequences.

With 120+ reasons to prove yourself unstupid, the game has plenty of intelligent puzzles on tap, or there’s a level editor to try your own hand at designing. If you can forgive the trite visuals (its overly-affective doting on the color yellow is disturbing) and barely-there audio, EscapePod is one smart cookie.