With any great title, there will be imitators — Alawar Entertainment brings us yet another in The Treasures of Montezuma, a Mayan-themed take on the classic Bejeweled. The basic concept is the same as its inspiration, but a few minor tweaks do a good job at mixing up the gameplay enough to keep it fresh.
Often times, developers feel the need to dress up a game with extraneous cutscenes and window dressing. Montezuma is no different, with the theme suggesting that the player is on a quest to raid an ancient civilization of its worldly treasures. But to be fair, the Mayan theme works pretty well here.
The game forces a strategic clearing of the board to collect jewels that are embedded in the colored tiles. The board is complete when all jewels are collected within the time limit.
But the real treat in this version is the shear number of bonuses. As the game progresses to the higher difficulties, power-ups such as added time, explosive tiles and score bonuses. Matching back-to-back sets of the same color triggers another bonus in the form of “totems,” which can unleash effects like clearing tiles or even collecting all of the jewels currently on the board.
None of these bonuses is truly overpowering, though, so the game remains fairly balanced. The difficulty, which simply means more jewels to collect within the time limit, keeps an even pace with the number of power-ups. Things can definitely get hairy, and the ticking clock is reminiscent of that point in the SAT when the proctor announces, “10 seconds!” Then again, stringing together a torrent of bonuses and clearing out the entire board to barely beat the buzzer can be damn satisfying.
A word of caution, though. Sometimes in those moments of rapid-fire matching, with bonuses compounding on each other, the frame rate drops considerably, even to the point of crashing the game. It’s never catastrophic, though, and the autosave usually picks up right where you left off.
There is only one mode of play, however, which is the basic story that climbs a progressive difficulty tier. There’s no quick play option or continuous option, which, frankly, wouldn’t really fit given the objectives of the game. Either way, The Treasures of Montezuma is a decent alternative for any Bejeweled fans out there looking for a more action-packed version of the classic.