Jewels II: The Ultimate Challenge

Published by H+a, created by Bardworks and distributed by Dreamcatcher

Brief Description

This game is about puzzle solving. There are a total of 24 puzzles to finish the game separated into 3 sets of 8. Each set of eight puzzles is represented by a different floor in a dig, change floors and you will need to change to the correct CD. You have a choice between hard and easy puzzles. Easy puzzles can be very easy, I solved about 7 of them in one sitting of an hour or so. Hard puzzles will take you much much longer to solve. There may be several differences between versions. An easy puzzle may be match symbols in the center, while the hard one matches symbols on the edges as well. There is a "reassemble the picture" puzzle. Pieces start upside down, and you have no idea what the final picture will be. In the easy version, as you find the correct spot for the tile, it will stay right side up. The hard version, all pieces stay upside down until you have solved the complete puzzle. Now that is a tricky feat to accomplish!

The game does have a lovely, realistic environment, and you are working with Professor Bhandam, who is the expert on the spot. The actor does a nice good portraying the professor. The music for the game gets a bit repetative, but it is frequently nice. The game does let you set the sound level, which is a nice but seldom seen feature.

The game has other things you can view as well. There is a pot in one room that if you click on it, it sort of dances around for a moment. Most of these animations seem to be in the game for the fun of it. A few may be giving you hints about puzzles. (I haven't noticed that, but I have not fiddled with very many of them either.) In fact, you can just wander around and enjoy the many sights of the discovery without solving the puzzles.

Game play and hints

The game starts with you carrying three items, visible at the top of your screen. From left to right are; a journal, a box for jewels and a map. The journal is one of your hint mechanisms, the box is where you keep each gem you have earned by solving puzzles and the map shows the locations and symbols of all the puzzles. It also shows you where the Professor's desk is. If you open the map, you can instantly jump to a new location by clicking one of the items marked on the map. You don't have to do that, but I like having this nice shortcut way to visit all the rooms.

When looking at the puzzle, there is also a key at the bottom of the screen. The key resets the puzzle to the original state. You may need to use this a lot.

Sometimes it can take a lot of fiddling just to learn how the puzzle operates. Sometimes I start a puzzle in easy mode, just to get a feel for it, then switch to hard mode. Most of them are click and drag, but sometimes you can rotate the pictures, and there are other times when you might have to pull levers or other things. There is even once where it seems you need to use the arrows keys on the keyboard.

The game has *two* built-in ways to get hints. The first is to visit the professor, and he'll talk to you about the current puzzle. The second is to use your journal of hints. The professor will give you the general idea about the puzzle. The journal is a bit more specific, though in neither case will you be given the complete solution on a platter. You have to think for this game.

Gripes about the game

One main gripe, it can be confusing sometimes on how to get away from a puzzle or being too close to the edges of the room keeps you from being get the cursor to change to a turn arrow.

The game always needs CD 1 to start with. You cannot load a saved game until after it has begun the game. Weird since the start up movie is on your hard drive. This is seriously annoying.


If you like to think, like mechanical or brainteaser type of puzzles, then this is your game. No fast action, no finding items (though there may be hints to puzzles in other rooms) and the only inventory are the gems you collect as you solve the puzzles. Of course, if you into action or you prefer needing to search around, find items then find where to use them, you need to keep looking for a good game for you

Highly recommended if you do want a thinking game.

Some final thoughts on the game.

Once upon a time, there was a game called Jewels of the Oracle and that game was good. For $20, you can order the original Jewels of the Oracle from Dreamcatcher Inc. The original game had much the same sorts of puzzles and atmosphere as this game. But it also has the mysterious Oracle. I rather liked the Oracle and the vague hints it gave about puzzles.

For puzzle solutions to either of these games, Balmoral Software has them all.