Do you remember when Bejeweled came out and it took over every aspect of your life? No? Just me? I have a lot in common with birds, in that if I see something shiny I latch onto it and don’t let go. Bejeweled was better than real jewels, with shattering combos and shimmering matches flooding the screen without all the expense and moral ambiguity. Did they use blood diamonds in Bejeweled? TELL ME THE TRUTH, POPCAP!
On a much lighter note, GemPacked Cards has come along and asked the question, “Can we make minerals and gemstones adorable?” The answer comes from a woman shouting from the back of the auditorium through cupped hands. “YES,” she yells, “but can you just get on with the preview? This was a really weird way to start it.” Fine, Mom. Whatever you say.
GemPacked Cards is a card game the whole family can play if your family contains 2-5 people and a passion for games. Kids as young as 6 can play, so GemPacked Cards could be a great introduction to the hobby for your children. It takes 20 minutes to play with a tiny amount of setup. So far, everything sounds perfect for me, but all I had to do was look at the game to be hooked.
On all of the tokens and cards are “space Geminos” in 7 different varieties. These space Geminos (water Geminos are nowhere to be found) apparently are intelligent creatures akin to Pokemon, able to evolve into larger and more valuable forms. Okay, the theme isn’t strong, but with gems this cute, it doesn’t really matter. I didn’t play Bejeweled because of the PopCap Gaming Universe it created. Did you know Plants vs. Zombies and Peggle take place in the same world?!? Moving on.
The game runs on a simple formula that says that pips combine to make squares and squares combine to make diamonds. The primary colored squares and diamonds (red, yellow, and blue) can only be created using pips and squares of the same color, but secondary colors can additionally mix primary colors together for combos. You know what? It makes way more sense to show you how it works.
There are a few extra twists with these combinations with Wild pips, squares, and diamonds, but it doesn’t much more complicated than the color theory you learned in elementary school.
On a player’s turn, they draw two pips from a face down supply and can combine pips and squares as many times as they want to. You can even break down squares into the pips that formed them, chaining into a giant shopping spree. Diamonds are worth more points than squares, and primary colored diamonds are more valuable than secondary colors. Remember how these Geminos come from space? There’s even more points available if you gather a crew of Geminos that match rocket ships lined up for launch at the beginning of the game. Or you can smash random pips and squares together to create Novas or Red Dwarfs. You know, space stuff.
When a card is bought from a common array in front of players, it is immediately replaced with another card from the deck. There are special events in the form of hungry comets or helpful asteroids that activate when placed on the table. That diamond you have been saving up for could be eaten by a comet, so be ready with a backup plan, just in case. Asteroids bestow extra pips to players, breaking up in the atmosphere as they fly by. There’s lots of things happening in the game, but it never gets out of hand.
GemPacked Cards takes cute and adds simple game play to create a family game that can please anyone looking for a pleasant way to spend time with family and friends. Make sure to watch out for those comets, though. They’re always out to get you. Just like real comets.
GemPacked Cards is on Kickstarter now. Check it out here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ebaraf/gempacked-cards