If there’s one thing D3 knows, it knows which casual puzzlers to pick up and distribute. After all, it brought us Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. Now, it’s done it again with another match-3 game, Cradle of Rome. Cradle of Rome mixes classic match-3 gameplay, with a touch of city building simulation fun.
Cradle of Rome can be considered a simulation title as well as a casual game. You start out with a blank area of land, with the promise of being able to build a legendary, historic civilization there. You start by building the initial elements necessary for society, a sawmill, quarry and mill, so you can begin collecting gold, food, stone and wood.
The goal in each level is to eliminate the blue tiles on the background before time runs out. This can be done by matching the icon on that tile with two or more similar ones. Each level has a completely different layout, and sometimes even has chained blocks which must be broken by a chain before you can have access to that tile or area beyond it.
What I loved most about Cradle of Rome is, depending on how you play, you can sort of control the game’s difficult and flow. If you rush through, buying new buildings and city aspects as soon as possible, the game will become more complicated, with new icons in the puzzles and extra power ups. If you instead get the first epoch buildings, which unlock the basic building materials of food, building materials and gold, and then play a few levels to stockpile the necessities, you’ll find its a bit easier to play through the levels.
Normally, I tend to lose interest in match-3 titles. For example, Zookeeper’s DS version kept me amused for about two weeks. The ability to build an ancient city kept me enthralled. The first time I started up Cradle of Rome, I played for over an hour and a half without even realizing it. I was so determined to gather materials that I didn’t even realize how long I’d been playing.
The Relax Mode play aspect was a nice touch, but I didn’t really use it much. It is nice to have the option to revisit puzzles already completed, but when there are 100 possible puzzle grids, and a whole city to possibly rebuild by playing and stockpiling resources, the standard Play Mode seemed like the preferable option.
Of course, if you’ve already completed the main mode of Cradle of Rome and rebuilt Rome, then I could see the Relax Mode as offering some replay options and value to the title.
Cradle of Rome also just looks good. The icons on each tile are clear and easy to see. The village that you build up looks detailed and intricate. It’s very easy on the eyes, a definite plus if you intend to play for an extended period of time.
It also has very responsive touch screen controls. Its very easy to slide and move blocks, and you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ll be moving or shifting the correct tile. The only disappointing part was, there is no option to return to the main menu from the Epoch building select screen. Instead, you have to actually start playing, open the menu and choose to Exit Game to reach the main menu again.
Best of all, its a budget title. So you won’t be paying an outrageous price (like $29.99) for a simple, casual puzzle game. I truly enjoyed playing Cradle of Rome, and found it was a fun title to pick up and play a few levels of while I waited for a ride or was waiting to meet up with friends.
Cradle of Rome is a wonderful port, and works perfectly on the DS. I think it would make a great gift for a casual game fan who is looking for a match-3 game.
Images Courtesy of D3 Publisher.