Some games are easy to get lost in for hours at a time. Then I forget all about it for several days until I feel inclined to yet again take the plunge. Plunging into the colourful world of Paradise Quest is marvellous, and I can match golden turtles until my eyes hurt. The lack of challenge the game poses makes it easy to forget. With no real feeling of reward rather than the obvious here and now sparkling effects it leaves a very small imprint in my mind.
Paradise Quest is a match 3 puzzle game with a couple of unique properties. For one it is played on a large board that you only see a small portion of at a time. Another thing it does uniquely is that you move across the board according to the matches you make. If you match a bunch of butterflies in the lower left corner the view moves in that direction. To complete a level you have to release artefacts stuck in stone. These are released by matching objects within the brownstone area. The controls for moving the objects is all touch based. Simply touch and drag to the position you want it to go. Tap and then tap new location also works. There are power ups that can be dragged onto the board to remove tiles quicker. These can be affected using motion controls. For example the earthquake is done by shaking the device.
Some of the tiles are set in sand, and by clearing sand you fill up a movement meter. By going to map view you can travel instantly to another part of the board. I found this to be poorly executed due to the fact that you don’t know what parts of the map has actual board underneath. As the map only shows where you have been there is no telling where you haven’t been. If you select a spot way out of the board the game transports you to an already explored border as close to the desired travel position as possible. Basically this makes the game tedious as I have to start refilling the movement meter again without actually benefiting from it the first time.
The game is all about restoring a tropical kingdom as a renowned ecologist. The story is told in time management style drawings, and of course the protagonist is a woman. By collecting the natural resources on the board you can restore plants, animals and get a working biotope going again. This is done in a special map menu, and unlocked animals and plants are collected on 15 pages in a book. To me this part of the game is a total bore, and I played some 10 levels before my wife asked me why my tropical paradise still looked like crap. For some people, like my wife, collecting animals and getting things to look good is rewarding. To me it only takes time away from the match 3 gameplay.
The presentation is lush and polished. The different tiles are easy to distinguish, and the graphical effects of matches and powerups are excellent. The hi resolution background depict the tropics, and it is easy to use Paradise Quest as a relaxation puzzler. The music ranges from tribal drumming to ambient jungle beats to new age Era and Enigma type stuff. Stellar input for tired ears. The game lets you play your own music in an in game iPod menu. It handles the sound strangely though, and keeps interrupting your music with in game audio between levels. There is no way to just play your own music when starting the game, and hence podcasts can’t be listened to as far as I can tell.
There are several hours of gameplay to be found within Paradise Quest. Most levels are quite easy to beat, and there isn’t much new elements added other than the odd usable object and locked tile. A game can’t be much more casual than Paradise Quest, and this is my main problem with it. It doesn’t grip me, it doesn’t make me want to play it day after day. Compared to match 3 games such as Bejeweled 2 and PuzzleQuest that made me spend too much time playing, and even thinking about playing. I still find Paradise Quest to be a really worthwhile game to play those times I have started it. The weird handling of the music when using your own combined with a general lack of challenge draw the final rating down. The unique match 3 movement, cool powerups, well produced music and lush graphics make for a good relaxing session in Paradise.