Crystal Crusade is the latest in a long line of Bejeweld rip-offs. It annoys me when people claim that Candy Crush is an original idea and that every other match-three puzzle game is ripping off that lolly smash-em-up. Now I’m not saying that ripping off and tweaking an original idea is always a bad thing. No, quite the contrary. If you can improve on a good idea, go ahead. It’s no secret that Uncharted ripped off Tomb Raider, Battlefield ripped off COD, Kim Kardashian ripped of Paris Hilton and even Bejeweled ripped off Columns. The theft and plagiarism of other peoples ideas is a historic tradition and there is probably some caveman sitting at home reading this going, “hey Columns ripped off Rock Swap”. Really, the point is to add enough new ingredients to make the cake taste like a pie and don’t claim it was your idea and you’ll be fine. If you get so lucky/clever (it’s a fine line with these sorts of things) to improve on the idea then hey, you’re on to a winner. Crystal Crusade may just be one of those winners.
Made by the Australian Torus Games, Crystal Crusade is the first original iOS and Android game released by the company. Stepping away from their regular job of adapting animated film tie-ins such as How To Train Your Dragon 2, Penguins Of Madagascar and Rise Of The Guardians, Torus Games have taken the time to create an original franchise aimed at kids. The aim of the game is to build up your army through the power of matching coloured crystals with crystals of the same colours. A bit like segregation or Candy Crush but without the racism. After completing a certain number of matches or exhausting your given time limit, the crystal matching is over and you enter the battlefield. You and the rest of your magical, medieval army take on a horde of trolls in the hopes of victory and completing a few secondary goals.
If given the chance and reaching a wide enough audience I think Crystal Crusade could be very successful. Kids and adults alike, bored of their latest tap habit with find a new replacement in this game. Building up your army, completing the secondary challenges and moving on the next stage are small enough, yet entertaining enough objectives to capture your attention and force out more important life aspects like feeding the cat or paying the bills. Crystal Crusade can be very addictive and it’s the kind of game that I would find myself saying, “just one more level and then I’ll go to bed” over and over. This, I feel is down to the fact that it is both extremely fun and very simple and easy to follow. Another plus for a cheapskate iOS/Android gamer like myself is that the free-to-play aspects will not get in the way. Sure you can buy as many medallions as you want but if you are cheap enough, ah I mean dedicated enough you can preserver on to collect as many medallions as your tight little brain desires (because let’s be realistic, hearts can’t desire, the main function is pump blood around the body).
Despite the horrific theme of war and murder, this game is beautifully colourful. The gems, the landscape and even the trolls are all brimming with brightness and vibrancy. None of the characters talk enough to annoy you and every single one, even the trolls are absolutely adorable. While maintaining this cute quality, Crystal Crusade also manages to tell an interesting tale and creating a new, exciting world. As simple as the story is, it is still enough to keep you intrigued and push on to find out the next character you will unlock or who is behind all of this terrible destruction of the Queendom Of Roses.
It seems as if I completely loved this game and that I am going to give it a glowing score, doesn’t it? Well yes, I did absolutely love this game and I could see myself tapping away until I had burst through all of the clouds and reclaimed the land. Unfortunately as with all games, three or four hours of utterly enjoyable gameplay can be ruined by one flap of a bug’s wings. Alas, last night almost all of my progress was deleted for no clear reason and I now find myself staring at a broken game. To someone that isn’t a hardcore gamer, it may seem a bit unfair to judge a game by one flaw but for anyone that has had their Skyrim save eaten by a swarm of hungry bugs, it is completely understandable. Therefore it is with a heavy brain (strangely the heart does feel heavy when you are sad sometimes, but I’m still blaming the brain, after all it’s the one that deals out all the feelings), I am awarding Crystal Crusade a one out of five stars. Of course if the game does get updated and my progress is restored, I would be more than happy to retcon that one to a five.