My first review for KitGuru is for a strategy game that many hardcore gamers will never admit to playing. Bejeweled has been one of the crowning achievements for PopCap games, selling millions of copies and addicting people of all ages to their console or handheld device.
PopCap have released the latest version of the game on the PC, V3 – a match three classic title that is extremely easy to play and even more difficult to put down. The new game features some changes to instill a little more life into the franchise.
PopCap have a tough job when a new Bejeweled game is announced. They don’t want to wreck the formula which is a success, but they also need to ensure that gamers don’t feel ripped off, paying for another version of the same title. Don’t underestimate PopCap either, they are selling tens of millions of games a year, even if they don’t generally appeal to the young, high end hardware PC based audience who generally read Kitguru.
Woven into the basic core gameplay are new ideas set to invigorate and captivate a wider audience. It is hard to reinvent a match three game style, but they have added enough to warrant a purchase.
The graphics are basic, but very colourful and effective. Fantasy artwork pervades the backdrops, the stuff of dreams and nightmares. With similar time tunnel depictions to the UK classic Dr Who TV show, it is hard to know what they are trying to achieve. Yet put this boiling pot of various images into one game and it miraculously works. The audio is an almost drug induced experience, with a deep and rather evil sounding voice guiding you on your way, with short bursts of encouragement. Perhaps im getting soft in my old age, but his voice was rather eerie and unsettling.
So enough rambling, what is new? The main core of the game will never change, but there are new special gems, which drive the Bejeweled race for domination and improvements to your ability to swap jewels come thick and fast. It is still the same neverending romp across boards, but there is enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen, to warrant many months of replay time.
Zen Mode is my favourite, by a long way. This mode is given as a ‘no lose’ option, the game will keep going until you get bored, or you need to eat. At night, with a strong cup of coffee before bed, it is a sure way to lose several hours of your life. The relentless acid induced music keeps the heart rate going, while your eyes burn into the screen.
Quest mode, is exactly what it says on the tin. A series of 40 mini games – as you progress through you get more addicted to completing the next, progressively harder round.
PopCap are offering four additional, unlockable modes which I feel were a lot of fun for the developers. They are all loosely based around the match three game style, but with unusual and unexpected twists. You need to wrap your head around the crazy styles before you will make any progress at all.
Ice Shards is a hyper game mode which asks you to focus on specific game areas to shatter ice as it advances upwards. You must create exactly the correct combinations at the right time to be successful in this mode, and it is a lot more difficult that it sounds.
Butterflies asks you to match special winged gems before they manage to nudge their way off the top of the board. Diamond Mine is another mode to keep your attention on the bottom of the screen as you frentically match gems to dig down through the soil, picking out the golden rewards.
Poker is one that people seem to like, you have to match the gems strategically in order to make the best hand. It sounds unusual, but plays fantastically well. Extremely difficult, but just as rewarding.
Lightning mode is an interesting addition to the game play modes, as you are only given a single minute to play, but by utilising the time extending jewels with the multipliers means the heart pumping action doesn’t fade for some time. Sadly they haven’t incorporated the Facebook game friends leaderboard option which means it gets a little lonely.
Bejeweled 3 is nothing dramatically new, but there is enough added to warrant a repurchase. Fans of the games will already have it and they assuredly will be playing it for many months until PopCap work out how on earth they can manage to reinvent it again for Version 4.