'Cradle of Rome'
System: Nintendo DS
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Manifesto score: 90/100
Cradle of Rome is a port of an addictive PC title that's great for on-the-go gamers. Players solve puzzles by matching various objects, and they use the money and other resources earned to build, given its name, Rome.
Adding to your city means building villages, sawmills and other types of structures, including eventually the Colosseum.
A new feature to the game is its Free Play mode that lets you play your favorite boards again.
The toughest part of the game is the time limits on puzzles. It becomes quite frustrating at times, but the challenge is better than say D3Publisher's Puzzle Quest, which became quite easy near the end after characters accumulate enough magical trinkets.
It's also tough to strategically solve Cradle of Rome's puzzles because their layouts include lots of strange designs where you have tiles touching only one other (think how a heart — an actual level — might be shown). That makes it tough to predict how things might fall, but there are other opportunities for strategy, such as when to use certain tools to eliminate obstacles on some tiles. It's just that Puzzle Quest offers a bit more for the strategist who likes to plot moves several turns in advance.
Of course, both are terrific games to pass the time on car trips (Northern Alabama in our case), but you may also find yourself letting your lunch get cold just to beat one more level.
Scott Sloan and Manifesto correspondent Mark Lisanby