Cradle of Rome DS Review

Cradle of Rome is one of the DS' most nonsensical video games. It plays similar to Bejeweled, with gamers matching three or more of the same symbols to make them disappear, except instead of rubies and diamonds, you have wood, axes and leaves. There's also this bizarre architecture subplot going on that makes no sense, but none of this game's quirks prevented us from playing it for several hours. Granted, we were stuck in a doctor's office, but we didn't curse our mothers. It's actually enjoyable.

Aside from the overused "match three" formula, Cradle is its own beast. Each of the 100 levels has a unique shape that causes the symbols to stack up in different ways. You must also clear the blue tiles scattered about the playfields in order to progress. Fail to make them disappear before the water in the vase runs out (yup, the water in the vase), and it's game over.

Unlike Bejeweled, you earn cash and supplies from matching symbols. Clearing silver and gold coins sends cash to your bank account, while eliminating wood tiles adds the valuable resource to your inventory. After each puzzle, you're given the opportunity to purchase a piece of architecture, providing you have the dough to do so.

The goal is to eventually create Rome one building at a time, but this side quest is more of a distraction than innovative feature. Building something like a coliseum has little impact on the game aside from bringing you one step closer to achieving this bizarre objective. No one ever attacks you, nor will you need to make important decisions to keep your citizens happy. We expected some sort of puzzle game/real time strategy hybrid, but D3 Publisher fails to deliver.

It's still a fun Bejeweled clone, and you'll need a few hours to clear its puzzles, but we needed something innovative. Hoarding as much gold as possible never gets old, but for a game called Cradle of Rome, we expected a game worthy of the world's greatest empire.

What's Hot: Classic Bejeweled-style play, earning cash and resources puts a new spin on the familiar three-match formula.

What's Not: Building Rome is pretty lame.