On a Search for Gems – Treasures of Montezuma Blitz Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.
For those looking to boost their PlayStation Vita library but are unsure what to spend their money on, I offer a free option: Treasures of Montezuma Blitz. This fun little social puzzle game is sure to suck you in and keep you coming back for more.
Gameplay in TOMBlitz is similar to games like Bejeweled: players are presented with a time limit of one minute and a grid of tokens coming in various shapes and colours, which must be swapped (via the front touch screen) with their adjacent brethren in an attempt to destroy them by placing three or more of the same type in a line. The jewels on top then fall into place and new ones come in from off screen. Get enough lines removed in a row and you’ll enter Frenzy Mode, where each group cleared gives you extra points. The overall goal is to get the highest score possible in the time allotted.
In most cases in this arcade-puzzle genre, gameplay is usually limited to simply mashing away at jewels until you either run out of time or can no longer make a move. For TOMBlitz, there are a few things that give it some extra depth. Certain jewels contain a crystal that, when destroyed, accumulate in a multiplier. The more crystals you acquire, the more your scored points get multiplied (up to 10x).
Another feature that sets the title apart is its bonuses. At the end of every round, you get to keep experience points and crystals based on your final score, and as you level up you gain the ability to use various totems and power-ups. Totems are activated by destroying two token sets of the same colour in a row, and can have various effects such as repainting tokens a different colour or destroying others with fireballs. Power-ups also have different effects like adding extra crystals to the field or destroying surrounding tokens in a combo. These bonuses use up your won crystals however, so they can only be used so often.
Something else to further make TOMBlitz unique is its usage of the Vita’s key features, namely the six-axis motion controls and the rear touch pad. Players may actually control the direction that tokens fall after breaking them by tilting the system in the direction they’d like them to go. This can be done by either holding the Vita horizontally flat and tilting it briefly in certain directions, or holding it vertically and actually rotating the device. Either way you play, this opens up a whole different dimension to gameplay and expands the game greatly.
A player can use the rear touch pad as well on two different occasions: Knockout Mode and Dark Mode. The former is activated when a group of six or more tokens of the same colour are cleared in one move, and allows players to destroy individual tokens using the back pad. Combine this with gravity shifting, and players will be able to make just about any move they can fathom.
Dark Mode is triggered at the end of the round if both Knockout and Frenzy Modes are activated at the same time; here, a quarter of the round’s time is re-added to the clock. A stretch of black clouds cover the field, which need to be pushed away with the rear touch pad. Players need to find combos hidden behind the smog, and each line cleared adds a bit of time back to the clock. This provides the gamer with a few extra seconds for an additional stretch of score, and can make the difference in beating a friend’s high score.
Overall, gameplay is unique, fun, and quite addictive. There is one problem with it though, and that is its limited play. TOMBlitz is a very social game, with players competing against their friends for a weekly high score. However, players are only able to play so many times within a set period. This is shown by a heart meter (think the Legend of Zelda), and each play takes away one of five hearts. These beating organs take about five minutes to recharge, greatly reducing how much a gamer can play; and since every round is only a minute long, gaming sessions will be less than ten minutes. While I can see it from a social aspect (limiting play prevents those with a greater amount of free time from being able to grind away at a high score), the addictive nature of the title will leave gamers very dissatisfied and wanting more.
On the music and video side, things are pretty good. The title’s visual style has an interesting tribal design to it that resembles something similar to the Aztecs, and colours come across vibrantly on the Vita’s massive screen. That same tribal feel carries over to the soundtrack as well, as players are treated to a beautifully composed array of pan flutes and drums that reminded me of Fruit Ninja Kinect’s tunes. There are only a few songs though, so you’ll memorize them quite quickly; however, in a strange twist, the same issue that limits game time prevents the soundtrack from getting boring. Everything here is good to go.
At the end of the day, this free game is one that will keep you entertained, if only for a short time. With creative gameplay and a competitive social aspect, Treasures of Montezuma Blitz is a title you’ll be happy you downloaded… and if not, then hey, it was free, right?
Final Score: 4.75 / 5.0 and a shiny gold totem.
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