Cradle of Rome Review
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, than Bejeweled is one of the most flattered games in history. The latest Bejeweled clone to hit the DS is Cradle of Rome, and while it does try to add a few superficial flourishes to its gameplay at its core it's basically the same puzzle game most gamers have seen a hundred times at this point.
The gameplay is centered on a puzzle board laid out as a grid. Arranged on the grid is a collection of icons - jewels in Bejeweled, vaguely Roman resources in this game such as gold coins, rocks, and ladybugs (yes, ladybugs). Your basic goal is to swap adjacent icons in order to form a row or column of three or more similar icons. When a match is made the matching icons are eliminated and the icons above them 'fall' to take their place and new icons enter the grid to fill the empty spaces at the top. Cradle of Rome adds special squares to the grid and requires that a match be made on each of these squares and it also adds a time limit to each puzzle, but these are minor variants that have appeared elsewhere many times over. Cradle of Rome's unique variation on the theme is that some of the icons represent resources such as wood and stone and when these icons are eliminated the corresponding resource is added to your stockpile. In between puzzles you can spend those resources to buy a new building and eventually build yourself the city of tome.
Before you get too excited about a potentially exciting melding of puzzle and strategy gaming, I have to break the news that purchasing a new building in a linear fashion every couple of puzzles is as far as the game takes this concept. It's a classic example of an interesting idea with some unique potential completely neutered by rushing the game to market without taking the time to fully develop the concept. The game should be another Puzzle Quest, a game that brilliantly built an RPG around puzzle-based battles, but instead, it's just another Bejeweled knock-off lost in a sea of derivative clones.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 58%. If you feel that you can never own enough Bejeweled clones, then this is the game for you.