Day 406: Jewel Dervish

Posted: 2011/12/21 in Indie Games

What if you took the basic premise of Bust-A-Move, but put it on a much bigger playing field, put the targets in the middle of the screen rather than at the top, and added a system of momentum where every shot would put a bit of spin on the collection of gems? You’d get something like “Jewel Dervish”, and it’s awesome.

The strategy that the play mechanics add to the genre is stunning. If you keep shooting at one side of the playfield then you’ll be able to get a lot of spin on it, whereas if you alternate sides you can keep it to a minimum. The ability to get the playfield spinning lets you shoot at every side, but means you have to lead your shots to compensate for the spin. The steepness of the angle that you hit the gems dictates how much spin you add to it, which is a nice touch. The ability to bank off the side, then the top of the playfield really adds a lot to the game too.

Instead of forcing you to fire off lots of shots quickly due to a “shot clock” or an overall timer, “Jewel Dervish” focuses more on accuracy and skill by penalising for missing shots (rather than shooting slowly). It’s not the best looking game, but it’s one of the most successful evolutions of the genre I’ve ever seen. I would compare it to the difference between Breakout and Arkanoid, the former having created the genre and the latter refining it into its modern form through key additions (power-ups, unbreakable blocks, blocks that take multiple hits, etc.). “Jewel Dervish” improves hugely on Bust-A-Move, and is criminally unknown. If you ever enjoyed Bust-A-Move, and especially if you liked it but thought it needed a certain something, get this 80 Microsoft Point game pronto. With a graphical upgrade, this would easily sell as an 800 point XBLA game, but I’m content with the status quo at 1/10th the price.

Here’s what the developer (Team Legendre) has to say about the game:

“Jewel Dervish can be a meditative action/puzzle game. On the other hand, it can be a panic-inducing race against time and friction! Whatever you prefer, you will find Jewel Dervish to be a great gaming experience with high replay value. Come meet Hypno kitty and smash the pretty rocks! ***No Jewels were harmed in the making of this Dervish***”

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