Bejeweled 3

The four new modes in particular are all excellent additions, breathing new life into the series and making it a worthwhile purchase.

By fishdalf, Posted 05 Sep 2011

The team at PopCap Games aren’t under any illusions when it comes to their beloved and now well-established series. They know it’s almost impossible to change a formula that has garnered them and a handful of their rivals so much success to date, but at the same time continue releasing games with fresh ideas, that will set them apart from the competition and keep people hooked. Many have attempted the feat by integrating story elements, but that’s never what Bejeweled has been about and it’s finding that ultimate balance that has taken them the best part of six years to perfect.

It hasn’t been quite the six year wait for fans though, as we’ve been treated to two spin-offs - Blitz and Twist in the two years prior to release and it almost feels as if they were testing the water with some unique ideas and concepts. There are no major traces of Twist in this fifth installment, which saw gems being matched in rows of three or more by gyrating four gems on an axis, as oppose to the tried-and-trusted method of simply switching a single gem with one adjacent. The creators probably felt this diverted a little too far from their preferred course and thus dropped it like a stone.

Bejeweled Blitz didn’t suffer quite the same fate, as it has been renamed, repackaged and features here as Lightning mode - one of four recurring entries from previous iterations. Within the mode you’re essentially given sixty-seconds to clear as many gems as humanly possible, with more points scored for the larger chains and explosions; hopefully clearing a few mode-exclusive time gems along the way that will ultimately extend your time and score. And that in essence is where half the fun lies; that competitive element of achieving those high scores against friends, family or maybe even colleagues, and topping the respective leaderboard.

Bejeweled 3, Review

Quest, previously known as Challenge, comes back for a second helping, but now with a greater selection of tasks to complete. There are forty to partake in, with eleven variations, some borrowed from the main modes and some unique, such as a fun balancing game that requires you to clear an equal amount of blue and red gems without tipping the scales too far in one colours favour. Some work better than others, with a tedious game called Avalanche a particular low point. Once all have been completed and all five artefacts (yes, a meaningless unattached plot point) have been restored, then you get a nice shiny badge for your collection, with the goal being to collect them all once certain milestones are reached.

Zen, previously known as Endless, also makes an appearance and has been given an injection of tranquillity. There’s the option to play soothing music whilst words of wisdom and encouragement are displayed, and even breath modulation which you can use to control you breathing patterns. It’s all actually really bizarre, and I struggle to see why anyone looking to play a puzzle game would ever want to spend any amount of time playing something so meaningless, in that the mode never ends.

Lastly, there is the ever-present Classic mode, which sees little or no change bar a few graphical enhancements here and there. The goal being not to run out of possible moves whilst moving through progressive levels of difficulty, in terms of where the gems are conveniently or not so conveniently placed as each board is generated. It’s still as addictive as its ever been, despite the lack of enhancement, and perhaps that’s for the best, considering they’ve provided a host of new and exciting takes on the basic gameplay mechanic in the four new modes on offer.

 Bejeweled 3, Review

Diamond Mine, the original name for Bejeweled back when it was a web-based flash game, is arguably the best of the new line-up, perhaps of all eight modes, and could easily stand as a fully-fledged game in its own right. The aim is to clear the screen before the timer exhausts, working your way down to the ground to dig and clear gems that help boost your score. Once you reach the cut-off line, two gems deep, more dirt is thrust into your midst, extra time granted and the process is repeated. It may not sound like much, but you only need spend five minutes getting the hang of it and even the most sceptical views toward puzzle games will be turned on their head.

Butterflies is a little slower paced, ditching the timer and instead replacing it with a hungry spider perched at the top of the board, determined to munch on the multi-coloured winged insects that spawn at the bottom of the screen. Each one flies a row higher as you move a gem and the object is to match them up with another two gems of the same colour to set them free. It’s game over if one ascends too close to the top and you’ll find yourself feeling for the poor sods as they shake with fear on the precipice. The biggest compliment I can pay is that this couldn’t be more different than Diamond Mine, yet is still hella-fun and an entirely unique take on the ‘match three’ principle that has been done to death.

Bejeweled 3, Review

Ice Storm is similar to Lightning mode in that the key to success comes from quick reactions and the ability to spot certain constellations in record time. The difference being that ice rises from multiple columns simultaneously, and it’s your job to keep them at bay before the screen glazes over. This is most definitely one of the sterner tests you’ll face and that will most likely be reflected in the comparatively lower scores on the leaderboards. The challenge is a welcome one though, and you may even amaze yourself at how you’re managing to survive the unrelenting onslaught.

Poker is for the thinkers amongst us, who’d much rather gain greater scores from precise planning as oppose to rash-dash clicking in sixteen different places at once. The scoring system is based on how many sets of three or more coloured gems you can clear in succession. If for example, you clear five sets of orange gems, you’ll be awarded a flush, two of one and three of another and you’ll be awarded a full house, and so on and so forth. Eventually skulls will begin to appear on the scorecard next to some of the weaker hands and you’ll be required to better those hands or face a fifty-fifty flip for survival.

All-in-all the eight modes on offer provide enough variety to keep you coming back for a good long while and the four new modes in particular are all excellent additions, breathing new life into the series and making it a worthwhile purchase. So good in fact, that they almost make the originals feel a little bland in comparison and that is no easy accomplishment by any means.

Craig Bryan, NoobFeed

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General Information

Bejeweled 3

87/100

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): PopCap Games
Developer(s): PopCap Games
Genres: Puzzle
Themes: Matching
Release Date: 2011-10-19

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