Friday, December 14

Review: Gem Crash [Nintendo Switch eShop]


One thing that the Switch has certainly proven with its already vast library of titles is that it has titles for all tastes. Though the more hard core set may groan at the suggestion that does include more casual fare. While typically things like puzzles or Match 3 tend to dominate the casual space it’s always nice to see something a little different. That’s certainly the case with Gem Crash, an action game that has its own unique style (at least within the confines of the Switch eShop) and can be fun to kick around somewhat mindlessly for a while.


Overall there isn’t too much to know, you’ll start out in one of eventually 5 different arenas (you’ll unlock new ones as you level up), and your objective is to rack up as high a score as possible within the time limit. There’s not too much you have control over, just the rotation of parts of the arena. In a way it’s like Breakout but within an enclosed area and there’s no risk of losing your ball, you just want to try to get to the larger blue gems to break them to kick off a bonus mode where you’ll try to destroy successive red gems that give you higher point totals. While it may sound a bit odd it’s easy to pick up and do your best with.


Early on it tends to be a bit slow going, and you’ll need to really earn every point a bit painfully as in particular those red bonus gems can take some serious damage. To help, as you accumulate the in-game gem currency you’ll have some options on how to spend it to get some extra oomph. There are one-time power-ups you’ll slowly gain access to that will give you an extra ball, or a little more time among other things. The better investment, though they get pricey as you level them up, are long-term upgrades you’ll be able to get. These will either make your ball a bit more effective in the normal play mode or really get things rolling when you get to bonus mode, helping to maximize your opportunity to rack up points when you’re able to kick it off.


All said Gem Crash is refreshingly different within the Switch casual space but it’s also pretty repetitive. To its credit, each of the 5 arenas you’ll eventually unlock play very differently and as you acquire power-ups the game does get a bit more exciting. That said, you’re going to grind the same arenas a whole lot to get enough gems and to level up enough to unlock everything so it can be a bit tedious. If you’re picking it up and putting it down this probably is fine but if you’re looking to play for a solid hour it can be pretty repetitive. If you’re looking for something to play a bit passively to kill some time it’s at least different, just be aware of its limitations in variety.


Score: 7

Pros:
  • A satisfying variation on something like Breakout without the pressure
  • Each of the 5 arenas you’ll gain access to play quite differently
  • As you upgrade and gain access to power-ups the gameplay gets more exciting

Cons:
  • Played continuously just be aware it gets grindy
  • It seems like there should be more arenas than 5 to help give it more longevity and reduce the amount of time between unlocks
  • While you are in control of the arena there’s a degree of the game playing itself at times