I've played Bejeweled. You've probably played Bejewled. The guy next to you on the bus or the lady and your mom and your neighbor have probably played Bejeweled. Everyone's been satisfied. But everyone should know: Bejeweled 3 is better.
Bejeweled 3 is the unexpected fifth game in the Bejeweled series (lest we forget Bejeweled Twist and Bejeweled Blitz). It's a gem-matching puzzle game and, at a glance, looks like a merely prettier version of a game that has never needed to look good to be great. Bejeweled 3 is more than a spit-shine. It's a sequel with eight main modes, one of which is the classic Bejeweled formula, the rest of which are mostly new and mostly very hard to stop playing.
Everyone. Really. Who can't play Bejeweled? And if you think you're, I don't know, too manly for it or something, just try the one-hour trial at development studio PopCap's website.
Bejeweled is one of the most popular video games in the world, so a sequel matters, whether because it might be a cheap cash-in or a shinier version of a golden game concept.
How is this game any different than the Bejeweled people have played millions of times on their computers, iPhones, and in their waking dreams?
Classic mode in Bejeweled 3 isn't much different than what you've played before. The other seven modes in the game are. (Do check out the nice long video below in which I walk you through all the modes.) The selection of new modes includes the endless Zen variation that lets you sync your breathing to audio and visual cues. There's a poker mode, a mining mode, and even a bunch of single-player quests.
Which are the best new modes?
My favorite new mode is Diamond Mine, a mode named after the original title for the first Bejeweled. In this mode you're racing the clock to make gem matches at the bottom of your screen, each of those matches clearing away dirt and excavating fossils. You have to race to clear enough dirt before the timer runs out; if you do, you can dig deeper. You play this mode fast, as you do the Bejeweled Blitz-inspired Lightning mode.
My other favorite is Poker Mode, which initially seems convoluted and bad. Every gem match you make defines a card in a five-card hand. Your goal is to make a great hand, preferably a full house or a flush, which gain you more points. The game gets interesting when some possible hands got blocked by skulls. Accidentally making one of the banned hands results in a 50/50 game-over coin flip. This mode is best played slowly as you stare at the screen, strategically picking the best five matches.
Which are the worst?
I disliked Zen mode, which I found no more relaxing than regular Bejeweled. I'm not the right customer for video games that will supposedly chill me out. I can already control my breathing just fine, thank you, and if I want to zone out while playing a video game, I'll just play regular Bejeweled.
I also didn't care much for the new Ice Storm mode which is a race to make matches that will stem the rising tide of chilly, freezing water. The people behind the game describe this mode as the game's "meanest." It sure is hard. I didn't find it fun.
Which mode is the best one with a bad name?
Butterflies. Seriously, butterflies? Oh, but it is quite good. Color-coded butterflies show up on the bottom of the screen and advance toward the top one row at a time, each time you make a move. You want to eliminate them before they reach the top row where a spider awaits. This is a mode best played slowly. The rising panic of a butterfly moving within three — two!, one! — rows from the spider is a vicious delight.
Is there enough here, though?
Yes. There are some disappointing omissions. The game doesn't appear to have online leaderboards or any way at all to connect with other players online. Given the zeal the game instills in its players for high scores, it's frustrating that there's no easy way to show them off. The game does have a lot of rewards, including a 131-level ranking system and an excellent batch of tiered achievements that have bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels of accomplishment.
There's also a cool mode in the game called Quest that sends the player on one of a few dozen short challenges, many of them operating under special rules even wackier than those in the game's main modes.
So what about the iPhone version?
No iPhone version — yet. The game is a PC and Mac download only.
Bejeweled 3 is a great sequel, one that takes its predecessor's core concept and reveals a wonderful batch of variations, all of them creative and many of them hard to abandon. In a fall rich with important video games Bejeweled 3 was still able to get its hooks in me. It's the game I wanted to show everyone, from my mom to my co-workers. Everyone who looked at it wanted to try it; everyone who tried it had a great time with it.
Bejeweled 3 was developed and published by PopCap for the PC and Mac, released on December 7. Retails for $20. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. I'd rather be playing Bejeweled 3 on this computer than typing any mor
For some video gamers, December 7, 2010 is the world-stopping release day for the next World of Warcraft. There's another mammoth computer game coming out that day, a sequel you may not have thought you needed: Bejeweled 3.
Yes, PopCap Games, which put out the first Bejeweled in 2000 and Bejeweled 2 in 2004 is making a big deal about releasing this sequel. Six years is a long time between Bejeweled games, though this is more like Bejeweled 5 if you count 2008's Bejeweled Twist and 2009's Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Bejeweled 3 comes out on Tuesday, December 7 for about $20.
Actually, Bejeweled 3 is another gem-matching game. As with the original, you can spend seconds, minutes or hours matching at least three gems of the same color to each other in order to eliminate them and have the screen fill back up full of cascading gems. The new game's main attraction is that it has a lot of variations, including a poker mode, a time-based mode and even a mode that includes subliminal messages.
The subliminal messages are in a New Agey can't-fail Zen Mode that can also produce sound cues to which you can sync your breathing. Even odder, it can emit special beta wave and delta wave sound frequencies to relax you, though the developers admit might be the product of "fringe science." audio pulses that supposedly relax you even more. But maybe using Bejeweled gem-matching to play a modified single-player version of poker is even weirder? It's in the trailer here:
That's from the game's new quest mode, which presents a series of challenges like having to use gem-matches to dig deeper through the bottom of the playing field or having to somehow match gems to balance two weights. The idea is that instead of playing regular old Bejeweled — called "Classic" mode in this sequel — you could be taking on these specific Bejeweled missions in order to unlock... more missions.
They did. So? It's funny to look at some of the features PopCap is touting about Bejeweled 3 on their site. Look:
Bejeweled is just about the last game that needs better "high-definition graphics" (why not make them in 3D while they're at it?). It's a fact that a new Bejeweled was going to look better than the last one, but it's also a fact that it probably doesn't matter to anyone who loves playing Bejeweled. The achievements system is a little more relevant, as it adds more of a rewards system for players who will be motivated by the goals of scoring X amount of points in Y mode. The new gems are more meaningful, but details on those will have to wait until the game is out and we can review it.
It doesn't look like it, not at launch. Bejeweled 3 is coming out first just for Windows PC and Mac. Given how Bejeweled games eventually go everywhere, expansions to other platforms seem likely. (PopCap estimates that they've sold 50 million copies of Bejeweled games and that the games have been played by 500 million people. Who knows how they counted this, but doesn't it seem like every other person has played this game?) For now it looks like Bejewled 3 will just be a game you pay for and download on your computer.
We've asked about a free version, but so far PopCap is only showing the $20 one. PopCap says they'll offer a free trial version for download on December 7 in addition to the $20 full downloadable one.
Check back on Kotaku on December 7 for our Bejeweled 3 review.
Foregoing a lavish, star-studded party, PopCap's Bejeweled 3 launch party was held in a North London living room, with only a secretary, a grandmother, a librarian, a banker, and a father in attendance, representing the series' diverse fanbase.
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