Review: Bejeweled 3

Posted 10 years ago by Victoria Medina

Bejeweled has been around for years and has spawned quite a few variations. Keeping things fresh, however, is not always easy. PopCap is well known for fun, entertaining games however, and Bejeweled is just another of its wildly popular casual gaming experiences.

In this version of the connect-three game, PopCap has mixed things up, adding new game modes and more features. With other games like Plants vs. Zombies and the original Bejeweled being so entertaining, there’s a bit of expectation that this game has to live up to.

Bejeweled 3 (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, Mac, Nintendo DS [reviewed])
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Released: November 15, 2011
MSRP: $19.99

Bejeweled 3 is, at its core, still Bejeweled, a connect-three game that has, out of necessity, added more elements in order to stay fresh. Surprisingly, PopCap has managed to retain the fundamental elements that made Bejeweled so popular in the first place, while adding more and keeping the title entertaining.

In all, there are eight game types, four of which, when played, will unlock the other four. The primary four are Classic (this should be self-explanatory); Zen, which is similar to classic except that the music is more relaxing and the game is endless; Lightning, the complete opposite of Zen in that you have to move quickly and match as many gems as possible in the time given; and Quest, which consists of five levels. Each level contains eight challenges, such as “Free a certain number of butterflies” or “Get so many points” but while some of the game types are ones found on the main screen, there are also eight game types that are exclusive to quest.

The four unlockable game types are Poker, Diamond Mine, Butterflies, and Ice Storm. While all of these retain the essential connect-three base, they’re a bit more interesting than the other four game types (and require more explaining). Poker requires the player to match gems in order to create poker hands for points. Diamond Mine gives the player a certain amount of time to ‘dig’ by matching gems to clear dirt and collect gold and buried treasure. Butterflies puts butterflies at the bottom of the screen, and asks the player to free them before they make it to the top (and the giant spider). Every set of gems cleared moves the butterflies up a row. The last game, Ice Storm, divides the bottom screen into four columns of two rows each. Each column needs to have gems matched in order to keep ice from creeping up to the top screen. 

Each game type will get more challenging as you play longer (for example, in Ice Storm, once you’ve cleared so many, each column breaks up so that each row becomes its own column) but there are ways to make it less difficult. When more than three gems are cleared, special ones are provided. Clearing four gems at once provides a flame gem that explodes all the gems around it when cleared, while clearing gems in a T or L shape creates a star gem that clears all the gems in a cross, with the star gem at its center. 

There are also badges, which are basically Achievements or Trophies with a different name. Fulfilling certain requirements will unlock a badge at the bronze stage, and continuing to meet increasingly difficult requirements will unlock silver and gold versions of the badges. Along with badges there high scores and stats for each game type. In the stats section, players can check their rank — which goes up as you play — along with number of gems matched, favorite gem color, and total time played, among other things.

The records, stats and badges are great for anyone who wants motivation to play longer, and the additional levels add a number of reasons to keep a person playing, and help to keep it fresh. The only problem here, however, is that even with all the extra features and goals, the task is still the same. In each and every game type you will still be connecting colored gems. There are enough different options for the games that everyone who plays should find something they enjoy, it’s just a question of how long will it be entertaining. The controls are also solid, and set up so that players can use the stylus or the d-pad, depending on what feels comfortable to them. There are also three user slots, so if anyone else wants to play, you won’t have to worry about them ruining a game you have in progress.

Another cool feature is that no matter where you are in a game, you can exit and play another game, but go back to the first one later. When you resume a game you will have the option of continuing from where you left off or starting a new game. So you can bounce between game types if one starts to get boring or frustrating.

The downside to this is that no matter how you look at it, this is still Bejeweled — which is a good thing, if you enjoy connect-three games — but the entire thing is pretty basic without much serious game variety. As much fun as this game is (for what it is), I have a hard time finding any justification outside of gift-giving for spending $20 on this. For me, this style of game is something I would maybe pay a dollar for on my phone to kill time waiting for something else. The fact that the only handheld system this is offered on is the DS means that anyone who wants to play it and doesn’t have a DS will have to buy it on the consoles, PC, or Mac. 

When the superficial variety of the different game types is stripped away, you will still be left with Bejeweled, which might not be a bad thing if you enjoy connect-three games, but when the entire game is really just different variants of the same task over and over again, the chance of growing bored with the entire thing quickly is relativity high. If you can’t get enough Bejeweled and know you won’t get bored easily playing this, $20 is not asking too much, but for anyone who is looking for more substance from their game, the price point is far too high. 

To sum up, Bejeweled is a good way to kill a little bit of time, and PopCap has done a good job with adding variety to the game types, but it is still a shallow title that doesn’t require a lot of time, energy or commitment, and something that could get tired very quickly. Despite the creativity found within, this title won’t be for everyone and I can’t say that I’d be willing to spend as much as they’re asking for it on myself, especially not when I can pay a dollar on my phone for a similar style of game. This is still a great game for people who enjoy this genre, and due to how quickly players will grasp the core concepts, and how easy it is to pick up and put down, it will cater to a wider audience, but for $20, there are other games out there with more to offer in the way of substance and replayabilty.

5

Mediocre

An Exercise in apathy, neither solid nor liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit 'meh,' really.

Victoria Medina

Review: Bejeweled 3

Posted 11 years ago by Dale North

At many times these past few weeks you could have found me in a dark room, with my face lit only by a computer screen’s light. My face would be half smiling, and my eyes would be half open, stuck in a blissful state. In my glasses you’d see the reflection of colorful gems cascading down the lenses and onto my cheeks like shiny candy tears of joy. I’ve been playing Bejeweled 3.

The magic of match-three gameplay returns in the newest version of America’s favorite time sink. There has always been something almost therapeutic in swapping two colorful gems on a board to match three, and then watching them clear to make way for more swapping possibilities. That crack-like core gameplay is still present in Bejeweled 3, but now the game has many more tricks up its sleeves to make fully sure that never reach 100 percent productivity at work again.

Don’t be surprised if I stop writing this review to go back and play Bejeweled 3

 

Bejeweled 3 (PC, Mac)
Developer: PopCap
Publisher: PopCap
Release date: December 7, 2010
Price: $19.99

The long-awaited return of PopCap’s original time waster is finally here after six long years. Well, they weren’t that long. It isn’t like we weren’t playing other forms of Bejeweled on our phones and in our web browsers. But it’s here now, all shiny and new.

This time you won’t be twisting anything, mind you. It’s just good old gem swapping, bringing us back to that simplicity that is key in all good puzzle games. Looking over the shoulder of someone playing Bejeweled 3, you wouldn’t immediately know that they were playing a new version of the game. Aside from some nice visual upgrades, including HD graphics, the action looks the same as it always has. You’ll hear no complaints from me on this, though.

What makes Bejeweled 3 different is the various game modes and minigames included. PopCap has come up with some very creative variations here, and they’re all good. You start the game with four main modes. The Classic and continual Zen modes will be familiar to puzzle fans, and the new Quest mode and Lightning mode are very welcome additions.

Lightning mode is a fast-paced race against the clock, a time attack mode. You’re out to clear as many gems as you can before time runs out. Time booster gems will appear on the board, and clearing them will add time to your counter, giving you a bit more time to push your score up farther. This mode kept me coming back so many times that it was about a day before I even tried the rest of the game. 

Quest mode is a big blend of all the game’s modes. They’ve taken challenges based on all the modes and made smaller quests you have to complete in order to proceed. For example, a poker quest has you trying to score 3,500 credits in ten hands. Another has you using exploding gems to break a square wall segment in the stage background. Each of these quests were carefully designed so that you just miss the mark when trying to complete them. This mode is huge, like a game within a game. There are many challenges unique to this mode that you’ll uncover in your quest to restore lost relics. 

Beyond these four modes, there are four more hidden modes in Bejeweled 3, each of which are unlocked after playing one of the standard modes to a set goal. One of my favorite modes is the Poker mode, which has you matching jewels to create a “hand,” such as Two Pair or Full House. After playing for awhile, a skill will appear over a certain hand type, like one pair. Completing the hand with one pair with a skull marker on leaves you open for a coin toss. Flip a skull and it’s game over. Poker was already a fantastic time waster. Mixing it with Bejeweled is pure evil. You’ll never stop playing this mode. 

Butterfiles is the prettiest new mode. Gems with wings slowly ascend the game board, working closer to a spider that will eat them at the board’s top. Your goal is to clear the gems and these butterflies to save them from the spider. I love how the butterflies shake in fear as you bring them closer to the top of the board. 

Another favorite of mine is Diamond Mine, which mixes digging action with gem matching. The game board sits on diggable ground. By clearing gems near the dirt, some of it is blasted away, letting you dig deeper down to find gold and treasures. Mr. Driller and Dig Dug both nod in approval.

The most stressful mode is Ice Storm. This high-action mode has water rising up in the background continually, in separated columns. You have to match gems to keep the water down. If it comes up, it will turn to ice. Then the ice gets hard and explodes. Your goal is to play as fast as you can to hold back the freeze. A puzzle game has never made me this nervous before.

In all of these modes, the game is always tracking your score and performance. You start out as a scrub, but you’ll work your way up through the levels as you progress. PopCap says that there’s 131 of these ranks, so you can play this game for a very long time without running out of challenge. On top of this, the game has 65 achievement badges spread across all of the modes. Again, this is a huge game.

All of these modes look and sound great in Bejeweled 3. The visuals have received a nice upgrade, with support for up to 1920 x 2000 resolution in Ultra Mode. Visually, the game is very exciting. When gems give way to their advanced form, like the exploding Flame, Star, and Supernova gems, the effects are dazzling. Chain reactions are a treat for the eyes. The background art is lush and lovely, and there are some subtle animations there to entertain you. I also love how the gems explode, blast down an tunnel, and then reassemble after each stage — it all looks great. The sound is also fabulous this time around, as is the music, and that’s something I could never really say for a Bejeweled game before. PopCap has made a very pretty game with Bejeweled 3.

What makes Bejeweled 3 so wonderful is the almost endless options of things to explore and learn. You have all of these modes to challenge you, and new strategies to find within. If you’re a well-versed Bejeweled fan, you can put your chaining skills to use in many new ways to get pretty far, but there’s plenty of new strategy that continually pops up. For example, in poker, clearing three or more of one color gets you a card for your hand. But making a move that creates two different matches at the same time creates a wild card to help your hand out even more. Each of the modes has more new strategies like these to dig up and place in your repertoire. To me, this is the magic of PopCap titles. They work in a depth that goes way beyond basic puzzle strategy. There’s a ton of that in Bejeweled 3 for you to find.

This is a huge game that will keep puzzle occupied for a very long time with its new modes and minigames. PopCap has put a heaping helping of creativity into Bejeweled 3 to challenge both series fans and newcomers in varied, innovative ways. The range of choices within the game are wide enough that I feel like there’s something there to speak to many different types of gamers. Granted, if you’re not a puzzle fan, you won’t find much to like here. But if you are, this is the ultimate version of Bejeweled.

The worst thing you could do is write this game off as a Bejeweled 2 rehash. Yes, they’ve incorporated all the features that have made Bejeweled our go-to puzzler this past decade, but it’s the new modes, mini-games and strategy that will keep you coming back. It’s like PopCap went out of their way to top themselves and make sure that we never fully pay attention to anything ever again. 


9

Superb

A hallmark of excellence. There may be flaws, but they are negligible and won't cause massive damage.

Dale North