iPhone Life magazine

Review: Treasures Of Montezuma 3 HD by Alawar Entertainment

It’s getting harder and harder to come up with original ideas for Match 3 games, but the Treasures Of Montezuma has a nice little twist with the concept of idols that are activated when you match that idol’s color on the playing board twice in a row.  I remember getting really addicted to the first installment once I figured out how the idols actually worked.  For some reason I missed out on part 2, but now I’ve got Treasures Of Montezuma 3 on my iPad, the addiction is back, and this could quite possibly be the best installment in the series yet.

It's Red But It's No Bull
 

As with past installments of the series, your objective is to get the highest score possible.  You do this by swapping stones to get three or more like-colored stones together.  While Montezuma does not support diagonal matches, it does allow you to have “corner” matches where you might have something like three across and then three down of the same color touching each other.  All those stones go away, you get points for them, and then new stones fall in to replace them.  The more stones you get in a single match, the better your score.  You also get a better score when you can make combos of more than one color or chains as falling stones match with the stones they fall next to.  Another cool thing you can do is make matches after the initial set of matched stones disappears but before everything else starts falling.  This is one of the few Match 3 games I’m aware of that lets you do that.

All of these tricks are quite necessary, because you only get a minute to play on a particular board, unless of course you have power ups that can extend your time limit.  Speaking of which, there are a total of 16 power ups available, including a totem for each color.  The power ups range from increasing the number of jewels on screen at once to extending the clock by 3 seconds.  Each totem has a unique power as well, whether it be randomly destroying several blocks or changing the color of several blocks on the board.  Each power up has a total of 4 upgrade levels, and stars are required for each upgrade.  Like the coolest games that employ upgrades, nothing is permanent, so if you don’t like your current configuration you can take away an upgrade level from one power up and add it to another.

A Little Lightning
 

Each level has multiple point tiers, and you earn a star once you’ve cleared all the point tiers for a particular level.  These must be accomplished individually, however – if you have two point tiers at 150K and 200K points and you score 250K points, you only clear the second tier and must play again to clear the first one.  There is also a bonus point tier that you automatically earn a star for if you can clear it, though as of yet I have been unable to reach that magic tier for a single level.  Finally, you can earn a third star by playing a “thinking” version of the Match 3 levels where you get a set number of stones and a certain number of moves to clear them all out.  Thankfully these are just bonuses and you can skip them, because while they are fun at first, they soon bog down the action of the regular game.

One thing I remember from the original that holds true here as well is that they go all out with the visuals.  It’s evident from the quick but flashy cut scene when you first load the game to the stylish level-end dialogue when you’re racking up points.  There are even details where it almost seems unnecessary, like in the totems themselves at the bottom of the screen.  Chances are you’ll rarely be able to take them in other than a glimpse out of the corner of your eye every once in a while, but when you finally do get to see them in action, you’ll think “wow.”

Score Frenzy
 

The sound effects are give and take.  Some are cool, like the various totem noises and the lightening when a power up takes out a row of blocks.  Other sounds, like the banjo-like twang of your time running out, can get annoying.  I will say this, though – if you don’t hear a lot of noise going on, it probably means you’re not doing well.  Silence is akin to neglect in this game.  The music is actually pretty good, with a flavor that suits the Mayan setting.  The truth is, however, that you probably won’t notice it much while you’re actually playing the game. At least it can keep you entertained during the menus and such!

After spending entirely too much time with this game over the past few days, I think I’m going to have to go back and pick up part 2.  The Treasures Of Montezuma series is proof that Match 3 games are still relevant and can be highly entertaining without the need to mash them up with other genres.  This installment has all the action, excitement, and visual wow of its predecessors, and is a clear indication that the series has no intention of losing steam anytime soon.  If you love Match 3 games, or used to love them and have been waiting for the one to rekindle your spark, look no further than Treasures Of Montezuma 3.

Overall Score: 10/10
App Store Link

This game was reviewed on an iPad 2 running iOS 4.3.5.

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.