The Cradle Series (also considered as part of a Jewel Master series on handhelds) is a hybrid of Match-Three Game and city building. The games were released throughout the 2000s and 2010s for PC, Nintendo DS, Nintendo 3DS, and the Wii at one point.
Games in the series include:
- Cradle of Rome (2007): The first game in the series, originally released for PC (along with an Adobe Flash online demo version) by Awem Studio. Ported to the Nintendo DS in 2008 with its original title by D3 Publisher and ported to the Wii in 2009 with the title Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt by Destineer (the European DS version also used this name). The PC and Flash versions also use the name Rome Puzzle on some versions of the game. It laid the groundwork for the series, with swapping gameplay, power-ups, buildings that add new tiles to the playing field, and citizens unlockable once you fulfill certain conditions.
- Cradle of Persia (2007): The sequel. Originally released for PC (along with an Adobe Flash online demo version) by Awem Studio. Ported to the Nintendo DS in 2012 with the title Jewel Master: Cradle of Persia by Rising Star Games. It switches to matching three or more pieces in a row by clicking on them and scrolling through matching ones. The upgradeable power-up system is introduced, where if you collect enough power-up icons, it levels up and has a stronger effect, for a maximum of level 4, but you have to refill it back from nothing once it's used.
- Jewel Master Egypt (2009): The first game in the series without a PC version. It was released exclusively for the Nintendo DS by Storm City Games. Called Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt in Europe.
- Jewel Master: Cradle of Athena: The second game in the series released exclusively for the Nintendo DS by Storm City Games.
- Cradle of Rome 2 (2010): The series returns to Rome in this game. Originally released for the PC by Awem Studio, it was ported to the Nintendo DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 in 2011 and to the Nintendo 3DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2 3D in 2012, both by Rising Star Games. It returns to the swap to match 3 gameplay used by the original and adds elements like frozen blocks and awards, runs at a higher resolution, and has more graphical effects as well as higher-quality music. It even has an intro sequence, though there's no great story and it seems to be more of a reimagining of the first game than a true sequel.
- Cradle of Egypt (2011): Originally released for PC (along with an Adobe Flash online demo version) by Awem Studio. Ported to the DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 and to the Nintendo 3DS as Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt 2 3D, both in 2012 by Rising Star Games. The number 2 was added so it wouldn't be confused with the previous game Jewel Master: Cradle of Egypt, however the number 2 was retained even in the USA, where said game was just called Jewel Master: Egypt. It adds Relaxed mode for players who don't want to deal with the time limit and a few minor tweaks to the gameplay.
- Cradle Of Empires (2014): The first game in the series to be an Allegedly Free Game and not be released on any computers or consoles (it's only on iOS and Android).
This game provides examples of:
- Achievement System: Cradle of Rome 2 has twelve awards unlocked for beating 20 levels without losing a life, earning one million points, building two buildings in one turn, etc. They give a point bonus, but otherwise that's it.
- Anti-Frustration Features: If you're having trouble with a blueprint puzzle, the game lets you skip it after a while, though this results in you not getting a point bonus.
- Boring, but Practical: The first power-up you get destroys or removes a chain off a single tile. Doesn't sound like much, but if that one tile's placement makes it tough to destroy, it's a godsend. It also helps that the power-up recharges fairly quickly.
- Developer's Foresight: In case there are no moves possible, the game will destroy a few tiles until there are.
- Easy-Mode Mockery: Relaxed mode disables the timer and lives, which also removes the resource bonus earned from how much time was remaining upon completing the level, making earning them much slower unless the player decides to grind.
- Every 10,000 Points: You get an extra life every 20,000 points.
- Evolving Title Screen: The title screen changes as new buildings and workers are added to the city.
- Fanfare: Every time you beat a level, you get a fanfare that's appropriate to the setting, so Cradle of Rome has an actually Roman-sounding fanfare.
- Guide Dang It!: Finding out how to unlock all the citizens can be difficult as there's no real info in game how to get them or which buildings have them.
- Marathon Level: Levels in the second half have a tendency to get pretty long, as they may have things like two chains and two layers of destructible marble, along with a difficult design. Likely the first is level 55 in Cradle of Rome, which can take more than a dozen minutes.
- Oddball in the Series: Cradle of Persia has you connect three or more pieces in a row by clicking and moving through them with the mouse, instead of the swap to match 3 gameplay model used by the rest of the series.
- Power-Up: Each game has eight usable power-ups, which do things like breaking tiles or adding time. Cradle of Persia added the ability for the power-ups to become stronger once you collect enough of them.
- Score Screen: After each level, you're shown a screen that tallies up resources earned, as well as a time bonus.
- Scoring Points: You earn points as you play, even though they don't mean anything outside of unlocking one worker and getting extra lives, unlike resources.
- Solve the Soup Cans: Some of the puzzles that have to be solved to get plans for buildings are bizarre or hardly fitting. To be able to build a farm in Cradle of Rome 2, you have to find three pairs of identical butterflies.
- Themed Cursor: Each game has a cursor appropriate to the setting, like the Roman-looking arrow head in Cradle of Rome.
- Timed Mission: Each level must be beaten within a few minutes. Any leftover time is converted into resources.
- Too Awesome to Use: Each level has only one type of power-up tile, but any power-ups filled from previous levels are kept and can be used once if the level doesn't have the corresponding tiles. This can make the player not want to use the power-up in case they need it for a tougher, later level.
- Video-Game Lives: You start with three lives to beat each game. You lose a life if you run out of time.