Cradle of Rome is a match three game, originally for the PC and recently brought to the iPad. The way the game is played is pretty simple. Swap tiles to form rows of three. Some of the tiles are blue, and it’s the player’s job to eliminate these tiles to advance.
Cradle of Rome brings something extra to the table that keeps the game interesting. The object of the game isn’t to complete 100 puzzles, it’s to build Rome, and here’s how that’s done. Each round has five different tiles that fit into these four categories: power-ups, food, gold, and supplies. While trying to eliminate all the blue tiles you’ll be collecting food, gold and supplies, which will be used to help build Rome. Once you have a set amount of food, supplies, and gold you’ll be able to construct one of the masterpieces of Roman architecture. With each new structure that is built you get a new tile type. The new tiles bring you the same thing as the previous tiles, just more of it. For example, a chicken leg brings in 3 units of food.
As I mentioned before some tiles also contain power ups. If you match enough of these tiles you get a special power that you can either use right away, or hang on to until a later round. I thought it was pretty cool that you get to keep the power up even after the round is over.
As you move along through the game you’ll have unlocked many different power-ups. However, each round the tiles are chosen at random. So the power-up you have at your disposal for each round is also random. It becomes a bit frustrating when you don’t get one of the better power-ups on a difficult round For example, when you’ve already unlocked the star power-up, which eliminates all of a certain tile type, and you get stuck with the axe, which eliminates one tile. This is why if you think you can beat a round without the power-up you’ve earned, it sometimes is smart to hold on to a power-up until the next round.
The game is divided into five epoch’s, which I will refer to as five worlds, because it’s a term I’m more familiar with. Each world is beaten when you construct all five structures that go along with that world. As you progress through the game you’ll encounter new challenges such as tiles that are chained down and double stacked tiles.
You start the game with three lives and can earn more by getting a certain amount of points. Truth be told, every time this happened I was so into the game I didn’t make note of what the magic number for an extra life was, but it takes a lot. Here’s the hardest part of the game; if you run out of lives, you start the world over. Each world can take a long time to beat. Getting close to beating a world and then running out of lives is devastating. The type of devastating that will cause you to take a break from the game for a while.
Even though starting the world over can be extremely frustrating, it adds an extra element to the game. I really liked that the game wasn’t about beating a set numbers of rounds (although the game does include 100 rounds if your wondering). The different worlds, structures and power-ups kept the game interesting. That, combined with how addicting the actual levels are, means Cradle of Rome is the formula for a great iPad puzzle game.
Cradle of Rome is available for 4.99 via the App Store. While 4.99 may seem like a steep price for a puzzle game, it’s worth every penny. The 4.99 price tags brings hours of fun and challenge. I’ve spent at least 10 hours (I may even be being conservative here) playing the game and still haven’t completed the final world. Cradle of Rome is also available for PC or for Mac via the Mac App Store. Please note, I have not played this version of the game, so I do not know how it differs from the iPad version.
Final Rating: 8/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: iPad (first generation)
Approximate Time to Completion: estimated at at least 13 hours
Price Bought at: Review copy provided by Awen Studios
Current Price: $4.99
Recommend Purchase Price: $4.99 is fair