AFROian Jewels Review

AFROian Jewels by Toropot Co, LTD has just dropped into the App store. It’s a cute and charming variant of Tetris available now for just $0.99 cents. So is this Tetris style puzzler worth the price of admission, or is it a homage to a classic you might want to give a miss?

As Tetris variants go, AFROian Jewels is more of a matching game, albeit packaged in such a way it gives a nod to that blockbuster game. In fact there’s no complex shapes or figures to deal with, only vertical blocks with three randomized colored jewels in them. As they fall you can easily switch up where they land and alternate the colors within the block to optimize matching. When three or more colored jewels match up, they come to life as cute little “AFROian’s” and gleefully leap off the screen.

Of course things get more interesting and challenging as you progress through the levels. Blocks begin to drop faster (at almost unmanageable speeds on higher levels), some jewels will simply come to life as AFROians on their own thus eliminating the possibility of matching them horizontally forcing you to match vertically, and last but not least, special pieces will begin to appear making it easier or harder to match up jewels depending on where they land.

It gets surprisingly frantic and fast paced as you progress through the levels, which seem to change automatically as you rack up points in your score. This creates a gaming experience that really pushes you to constantly be on your toes, as each level automatically cranks up the pace without much warning right where the last one left off, meaning as you progress from one level to the next the play area will not be cleared out.

I can understand this design decision to simply stack levels seamlessly since a couple of well placed blocks/jewels can easily wipe out a ton of jewels already stacked up jewels; but the opposite is also true – a few misplaced blocks/jewels can really spell disaster if you’re not paying attention.

AFROian Jewel’s presentation is polished and well designed. The game’s menus, the UI, the sound effects and soundtrack are all very well done, with little if anything to complain about aside from the tunes themselves sounding more or less like generic elevator music. In addition to OpenFeint integration (which of course means leader boards and achievements) there is also the issue of randomness, which really adds a lot to the replay value of the game, for better or worse. Which is to say sometime the randomness practically gives you points, where other times it can be cruel and unforgiving.

The controls are very simple – anytime a block is falling you can move it left or right during its descent by sliding a thumb/finger left or right across the screen. If you want to alter the jewels you simply tap a switch button to cycle through different variations of the random colored jewels within the block. If you’re getting impatient and the fall is taking to long you can simply tap a big down-arrow at the bottom right side of the screen to increase the speed of the fall. In the top right there is a pause button, simply tap on the pause button to pause the game and therefore be able to exit out of the session back to the main menu, or simply continue the current game session.

iFanzine Verdict: AFROian Jewels is a cute and charming match 3 Tetris variant with odd pacing, but an otherwise solid gameplay experience. If you can live with the rapid-fire pace/difficulty then this is for you. However, if you’re looking for a cute mindless casual puzzle game just to pass the time away, be warned this will punish you without mercy (on higher levels) if you blink for just one second.

[xrr rating=3/5]