Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
It's becoming increasingly difficult to review match three games, as they have become so plentiful on iPhones and iPads. Still, Paradise Quest HD manages to maintain some originality in the face of so much sameness, and that has to count for quite a lot. It's a good game for adults, but there are many features that make this an even better game for kids.
I've never imagined that match three games could be even in the least bit educational, but Paradise Quest has some educational elements that add to the atmosphere of the game without, fortunately, standing in the way of the play mechanics. The premise of Paradise Quest HD is that you are an explorer/scientist (the two get a bit confused along the way) attempting to revitalize a failing rainforest ecosystem. Matching three in this case allows you to gather precious resources (water, food sources, trees, etc) that you can then use/spend to rebuild the suffering landscape. I give the developers points for making the game eco-friendly; as the ecosystem is improved players are notified of life forms that have returned to the rainforest. These are then catalogued in a scrapbook along with achievements you've unlocked, leaderboards and other relevant discoveries. The animal pictures are nice, but it would have been a good idea to provide some information about the animal as well. If you're going to have an educational element in a game, you might as well go all the way with it.
The designers also include a few variations on the classic match three formula. The main one is that you cannot see the entire board at one time. Each time you make a match, the board shifts subtly in the direction of that match. This, along with attempting to gather specific resources on the board, causes shifts in strategy in terms of which items to match. It's not a major innovation, but it's a welcome change.
Visually, the game is extremely colorful and is really delightful to view. Sound is equally impressive, with tribal beats underscoring most of the game's action. The only significant downsides in the game are the loading times and the match three controls. It seems as though every change in the game is accompanied by a lengthy (by iPad standards at least) loading screen. Once or twice is fine, I suppose, but after several of these they really grow tiresome. Shifting items to make matches also doesn't feel as elegant as the rest of the game. It works, so from a utilitarian perspective it's not a huge issue, but moving pieces on the board does not have the usual snap and polish that I usually associate with this sort of game. There's a slight lag when moving pieces that serves to disconnect the player from the game, and it's an issue worth addressing in future updates.
Taken as a whole, Paradise Quest HD is a clever, lengthy game, certainly worth $2.99, that seems best suited to children. Even adults will enjoy saving the rainforest, though.