Gem Buster Android game continues the jewel mania

by Ian Black

Jewels are in this season. Bejeweled, the original jewel puzzle game, launched a phenomenon and a bunch of copy-cat games, including JewelLust, and now Gem Buster. Gem Buster packs in the fun, but offers no real "wow" factor over other similar games.

In case you've just woken up from an extended coma, I'll explain how the jewel games work. You're given a screen full of precious gems, different shapes and colors. You must move one jewel at a time in order to create three in a row, either horizontally or vertically. This causes the three matching stones to disappear, and the remaining stones fall downward to fill the gaps in the puzzle. It's strangely addictive, in Gem Buster and all the others. A common side-effect of playing a jewel game is to look up at the clock and wonder how several hours have vanished.

Like JewelLust, Gem Buster adds turbo gems into the mix. You have stones that delete an entire row, gem bombs that blow out most of the jewels on the screen, and gems that change the color of other stones randomly. This adds some fun to the original Bejeweled, but all the gem puzzles seem to be adding this feature.

A table to the right of the Gem Buster screen shows you how many matches you must complete of specific gems in order to move on to the next level. You can play timed or untimed games. In timed games, you only have a few seconds to complete a three-in-a-row match, and this ratchets up the excitement.

All in all, Gem Buster gets high marks for fun, just like the others, but a low score for originality. It balances out to three bars. The games costs $1.99 in the Android Market, but you can try before you buy with a free, limited Lite version first.