Let's face it: city-building games on iPhone or iPad are a dime a dozen, and only a few have been able to add something new to the genre to make themselves truly noteworthy. Whether you're building a medieval castle, a modern metropolis or a fairytale village in the forest, most games simply ask you to build homes and businesses while completing quests. While Jewel Factory from Mobile Deluxe mostly fits into that same mold, the addition of gem sorting mini-games is just the sort of unique feature we've been looking for.
If anything Jewel Factory is more of a puzzle game than a city-builder, as the city building portion of the game is rather shallow. You'll build dozens of factories, powered by rubies, emeralds, sapphires and more, and will then be able to collect coins from those factories over time. Factories can be upgraded to allow for additional gems to be used as power cores, which increases the rate at which you earn profits, but the entire experience is basically a cycle that has you building and upgrading factories only to earn enough coins to purchase additional factories and jewels and continue on.
Where the game becomes unique is in the jewel sorting mini-game. Each factory has its own version of the game, with a different layout of conveyor belts. At the beginning of each stage, different colored jewels will begin traveling down these belts, and you'll need to flick them into matching holding containers for points. As you continue to purchase and upgrade factories, these levels become more chaotic, with additional types of jewels to sort moving at faster speeds, and there's definitely fun and satisfaction to be had when you flick a jewel all of the way across the game board with perfect aim while racing the clock.
While each match costs energy to play, this recharges quickly, and the downtime gives you a chance to collect additional coins to purchase the few decorations and functional buildings that are available in the store. The Jewel Museum, for instance, allows you to view dozens of different jewels, including hybrids, which are unlocked over time. The graphics in Jewel Factory are large and bold, with bright colors that cause each jewel to sparkle, and while the game's human character models leave something to be desired, the scale of other objects is a nice change of pace when compared to the many games that focus on miniature buildings and roads.
It's still disappointing that the jewel sorting mini-game costs energy to play, but as a free-to-play experience, that's definitely to be expected. If anything, it serves as a compliment to Mobile Deluxe for creating such a fun experience, and you can easily purchase additional energy if you'd rather not wait for it to recharge on its own. If you'd like to give Jewel Factory a try, you can now download the game for free on either iPhone or iPad.
Click here to download Jewel Factory on iTunes --->
Have you tried Jewel Factory on iOS? What do you think of the jewel sorting mini-game? Sound off in the comments!