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Gem Spinner II - Water Quest

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GS2-screenshot

Gem Spinner II

Category: Strategy Puzzles - Games
Developer: Tiny Bite Games
Rated: Ages 4+
Requirements: Compatible with iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, Android

Download from iTunes

Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here

I really like this game. In fact, I'm kind of hooked on it. Okay, I'll admit it. I'm totally addicted. I have lost hours of my life and my sleeping habits have been disrupted. I'm in the waiting room. "The doctor will see you now." Oh no! I'm in the middle of a game and I'm on a roll. My partner is banging on the bathroom door. "What are you doing in there?" I'll be out in a minute... just a couple of matches and another perfect game... drat! The dreaded black gems (lumps of coal?) that cannot be matched. It's time to turn out the light and get some shut-eye. Okay, just one more game... I promise... yawn... hey, is that the sun coming up?

Warning! This review may lead to unwanted dependency!

After completing a review of a new word game called "Quote Unquote" from Tiny Bite Games, I decided to see what other games and puzzles this company might have to offer. So I dropped by their Web site and my interest was piqued by Gem Spinner II. It's a strategy puzzle based on the ever popular three-in-a-row type game but with added twists for increased fun.

How to Play

The premise is simple. Manipulate the various brightly colored gems in order to get three or more identical jewels to line up horizontally or vertically. When a match is made the combination disappears and more gems drop from above to replace them. The gems on the board are arranged within various shapes that can be spun (if there is room) and an individual gem can swap places with its neighbor within a shape but only if a threesome or more is made.

Areas where matches have been made are greyed out and once an entire area within a shape becomes greyed out it disappears from the board. This is good to keep in mind as the more shapes you eliminate the more room you have to move the other shapes around the playing board. This is especially important in the later stages of the game when dealing with large, irregular shapes which need to be spun or relocated to make matches. However, you also need to preserve some of the smaller shapes in order to attack the larger ones.

Once you have played nine of the games in any set, the tenth game is unlocked. The challenge now is to clear the board in either 1, 2, 3 or 4 moves depending on which set is being played. This is one of my favorite features of the game. It's a puzzling experience which richly rewards the solver as you witness the cascading gems falling beautifully into place and disappearing with an explosive little 'Poof!' leaving a clean slate.

Play at Your Leisure or Against the Clock

There are two modes of play: casual or timed. In casual mode there is no time limit and you can have as many hints as are available.

In the timed mode, it's a race against the clock and hints are limited. If you don't make a match in a certain amount of time (about seventy seconds) a nasty little sun pops up accompanied by an appropriate sound effect. Then you have another ten seconds to make a match or else another sun pops up. These little rascals have only one mission in life and that is to make your life as miserable as possible by taking up space on the board and blocking your every attempt to make another match.

Fortunately, each time you make a match the clock is reset and one of these little devils disappears (with a wonderful sound effect). However, by the end of the game when matches can become very difficult to calculate and execute, these sniggling little suns can be so nerve wracking as to eventually overwhelm you, then time runs out and the fat lady sings, "Game over!"

How to Score

Points are awarded each time you make a match and bonus points accrue as you reach certain milestones. Bonus points are also given for making multiple matches, precision spins or for matching certain gems that sparkle. If you manage to completely clear the board that makes a perfect game and earns you oodles of points as well as a golden 'P' for perfect.

The Bottom Line

The developers have gone the extra mile and placed this game inside a beautiful setting. Load the game and there's a table top with various articles reminiscent of Indiana Jones and an old book, "Lost Treasures of the World". Hit the play button and you see a lovely old map with your five destinations. At each destination there is a relevant artifact and as you complete each game within a set, another jewel is added to the artifact.

I think that was a great idea. The artwork is stunning and kudos to the developers and artists Michael Katz, J. Lonnee, Jeff Brice, and the rest of the gang at Tiny Bite Games. Oh, yeah... and thanks for all the wasted hours and sleepless nights... yawn... zzz...

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