Time Machine: Rogue Pilot Review

Time Machine: Rogue Pilot has some forgettable story told through static screens and text that involves a rogue scientist going back in time and messing with the timeline, but it's basically a Bejeweled-inspired gem-matching game with an occasional hidden object hunt tossed in to mix things up a bit. The Bejeweled portion of the game features the same "match three" gameplay as its inspiration, but there are some changes to the basic gameplay. Rather than creating matches by swapping adjacent gems you're given a cannon that can change the color of the currently selected gem. The color loaded into the cannon is random, but there are always two alternate colors available that can be loaded up using the bumper triggers so you essentially always have three colors to choose from. There are a few restrictions on which gems you can target for a color change, though. Some gems have a jewel imbedded in their center, and these can not have their color changed. Also, some gems contain power-ups that do things like take out all of the other gems on the current row and they can't be colored-changed either. Lastly, there are stones appearing in the puzzle that can't be color-changed or color-matched for that matter. Your goal in each round is to either eliminate a required number of gems or a number of jewels imbedded in gems before the timer runs out.

The gameplay is based on the proven Bejeweled model, so that alone makes the game a decent little puzzle game. However, the presentation is a bit odd, especially with the emotion indicator or whatever it's supposed to be. This is a window to the right of the gem field that features a woman's head whose emotion is supposed to indicate how well you're playing. Most of them time she frowns and shakes her head disapprovingly, although when you're almost done with a level she'll begin to smile and nod. At best it's a bizarre touch to the game, but in reality it's a distraction, and a rather annoying one at that.

Every few levels a hidden object puzzle will appear. These feature a hand-drawn background taken from an epoch of history (the stone age, medieval times, etc.), and scattered throughout the background are objects that are anachronistic for the era. For example, you may have to pick out a steam engine or a traffic light from the stone age scene. The objects aren't so much hidden as they are just scattered around the picture, so there's not much challenge to these puzzles and as a consequence they're not that much fun. The game lets you skip these levels if you want to, so apparently it realizes that they're not very much fun as well.

The game's presentation and pretty much everything about it is just a little odd, and I can't help but think that I was playing a straight port of a foreign PC game (which was further evidenced by some of the poor English in the story text). The hidden object levels seem to be included as an extra hook to entice the casual gamer, but I don't know how many gamers like that invest in a PS3 system. If you just have to have another Bejeweled variant, then I suppose you might want to give the game a look, but otherwise there are better Bejeweled games out there (e.g. the Puzzle Quest games) that are more worth your while.

Final Rating: 62%. One of the stranger Bejeweled clones I've seen.


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