Bejeweled is a series that defies my typical game review approach. Breaking it down into Story/Gameplay/Visuals/Replayability just seems a bit… redundant. But I’ve been playing Bejeweled 3 on XBLA for a bit now, & want to review it. So instead of my usual format, I’m just going to give it a more simplified review.
What is it? For the uninitiated or those who turn their noses up at “casual” games, Bejeweled could be called the flagship of PopCap Games. It’s a simple yet addictive puzzle game where you match different colored gems. Line up at least three of the same colored gems to remove them from the board. If you line up more than three, you create special gems that do a variety of things from blowing up all surrounding gems to removing all gems of a certain color. Bejeweled 3 offers eight game modes:
- Classic: As the name suggests, this is the standard, classic version of Bejeweled. There’s no time limit, but it is possible to run out of moves.
- Zen: This is similar to Classic in that there’s no time limit, but it’s also impossible to run out of moves because the game generates new gems to allow for endless play. The goal of this mode is to relax players. You can turn on various ambient sounds, such as crickets or waterfalls. There’s also a “breath modulation” option, where the screen prompts you when to breathe in & out as you would in meditation.
- Lightning: A time-trial mode, players have 60 seconds to score as many points as possible. You can collect special gems to increase your time, or create several chains quickly to earn a speed bonus.
- Quest: Quest is sort of a mini-game mode. In each stage you have to complete four mini-games to move onto the next level. These mini-games are made up of the various other modes listed, but typically have a specific, timed objective. The only one I’ve seen so far that isn’t one of the main modes was a balancing game where you have to keep the amount of colors even (for example, clearing the same number of red & blue gems).
- Butterflies: Unlocked in Zen, Butterflies randomly replaces gems on the bottom of the screen with jeweled butterflies. With each turn that they aren’t removed, they move up a space. The goal is the clear as many as you can before one reaches the top, where a spider waits.
- Diamond Mine: Another timed game, players dig through layers of dirt to find gold, silver & treasure by clearing gems near the bottom. This mode is unlocked in Quest.
- Ice Storm: Currently I haven’t unlocked this mode yet, because it requires 100,000 points in Lightning, but it’s similar to Butterflies. The goal is to prevent columns of ice from reaching to top of the board. The game ends when the board freezes.
- Poker: Unlocked in Classic, each set of gems you remove counts as a card. For example, if you match red gems, you get a red gem card. After five matches, the game gives you a certain number of points based on your hand. Having five different cards gives you the lowest score, while having five of the same kind gives you a Flush, & the most points. Occasionally the game will put a skull on a type of hand, & if you have that hand there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get a game over.
Pros? Bejeweled is easy to understand & pick up. There are plenty of modes to appeal to all types of puzzle gamers, from those who like fast-paced to those (like me) who don’t want to be pressured. I also have to say that I really like the Zen mode. If you turn the music down & turn the ambient sounds up, it’s very relaxing. The regular music is nice, although I don’t think there are many different songs. The graphics are okay as well. Your board takes up most of the screen, but each new level has a different fantasy art landscape in the background, which is nice to look at. But honestly you probably won’t pay much attention to it.
Cons? Puzzle games aren’t for everyone. Gameplay is essentially the same thing, just with different objectives. So if you’re a hardcore action junkie, I doubt games like this will appeal to you. Also, while there is an addictive quality to the game, I find that if I play it too long I have a harder time finding matches because the jewels just start to look the same.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games, you’ll probably like this one. I can’t say that there’s enough difference between this & previous Bejeweled games to say if you should add this one to your collection, however. But if you’ve never played Bejeweled & think you might be interested, Bejeweled 3 is as good a starting point as any. But it’s not for everyone. Personally, I find Bejeweled 3 to be a nice palate cleanser between games or a way to kill time.
Console: just about everything (the version I played was XBLA)
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: PopCap Games
Release Date: December 7, 2010