Published on December 10th, 2010 | by Cameron Woolsey
Bejeweled 3 Review
I can remember when Bejeweled first hit computers. The simple yet addictive puzzle game seemed so innocent at the time. Yet it didn’t take long before the sweet sound of matching jewels filled every room with a computer and no one, I mean no one, was able to escape.
What makes the Bejeweled series so perfectly addicting? Is it the mix of colorful graphics and rewarding audio? Is it the simple gameplay that is easy to pick up yet hard to put down? Maybe it’s a mixture of everything, expertly balanced together to hook people and never let them go. I really cannot tell. What I do know, however, is that Bejeweled, with five games and millions of people hypnotized by the clinking of jewels to a slow techno soundtrack playing on every device that has a screen (I’m surprised you can’t play Bejeweled on microwaves yet), is the game series that defined casual gaming for the past ten years. Now in 2010 Bejeweled 3 has finally hit the market and the new question is: does the game bring enough with it to continue its dominance over your attention? Now that’s a question I can answer.
The gameplay for Bejeweled has not changed much. Starting off with jewels and a checkered board you must grab and switch gems in order to match up three or more similar ones. The gems disappear, more drop down, and repeat. Matching four gems will create a Flame Gem which, when matched with two or more like gems, will explode taking the gems around with it. Matching five gems will create a Hypercube and when swapped with a certain color gem, will destroy all other gems of the same color. Creating a cross of three gems, that is, three across and three down and connected by one gem, will create a Star Gem, which, when matched with two or more like colored gems, will destroy all gems in a one column and one row.
The main draw for Bejeweled 3 is the eight new game modes. You will start off with four and can unlock four more after completing certain challenges. Two of these modes are ones you should already expect: Classic Mode—which is the original game of Bejeweled we all know and love—and Lightning Mode which is a different take on the familiar Timed Mode. Lightning Mode pits players in a race against the clock to match as many jewels as quickly as possible to complete a level before the clock runs out. There are special gems you can match up that will add five or ten seconds to a separate clock which will add more time if the original clock runs down.
The new game mode that is the biggest addition is the Quest Mode which offers 40 puzzles made up of 11 mini-games each with a set goal to reach. The mode offers multiple challenges, most of which will be new to regular Bejeweled players. There are quite a few different game types to play during quest mode ranging from simple challenges such as matching a Bomb gem with two other of the same color before it blows, to matching gems as they fall from the sky. Among these my favorites would have to be Gold Rush and Butterflies, both are among the four hidden game types (Diamond Mine and Gold Rush are nearly the same). The goal of Quest Mode is to discover five hidden treasures by completing each of the challenges which become the gems on the treasure itself. Completing only four will allow you to progress to the next artifact which will have a mix of the same challenges but with different goals. Each treasure will have similar game types but will up the challenge. For example, one treasure will require you to play a game of Butterflies and the goal will be to collect at least 15 without any of them reaching the top and being eaten by the spider. A later treasure will have the same game type but require you to collect 25 butterflies. Finishing Quest Mode requires every challenge to be completed.
A new addition to Bejeweled is the Badge system which is pretty much the game’s own version of Achievements or Trophies. There are 15 regular badges which increase in rank from bronze to platinum, and five Elite Badges which are reserved for the true masters. You can gain one Elite Badge simply by finishing Quest Mode. The others however, such as linking two Hypercubes, won’t come so easily.
Classic Mode and Lightning Mode are two that are typical to Bejeweled but both are fun. Quest Mode is also a good time waster and offers many different mini-games, most of which are pretty fun. There is a game mode, however, that I found to be somewhat odd. Zen Mode is much like Bejeweled 2’s Endless Mode but functions differently. Zen Mode is designed to help relax gamers with soothing music and sound effects, emotionally supportive messages, and visual breathing cues.
No, you read that right. Zen Mode is a game type that uses the pseudoscience of biofeedback to help you relax and reduce stress while you play. For the sake of the review I tried to be serious with it, I really did. Unfortunately my regulated breathing pattern kept getting interrupted by bouts of giggling when messages like “I am loved” pop up to the sound of seagulls. Well they do say that laughter is the best medicine against stress…touché PopCap.
Graphics-wise, Bejeweled 3 is the best looking of the series, no question. It is the first to use HD graphics and offers different graphics options if your computer can’t run the game at Ultra. Of course, I doubt that many people will have problems running the game. My laptop which can barely run StarCraft II at medium can run this game at Ultra without a single hiccup.
The audio remains the typical Bejeweled faire with jewels clacking to the sound of slow tech beats. Each game type features different tracks to suit the theme. Poker has a slight Vegas beat while Butterflies is bouncy and sticks in your head like a malignant tumor. Returning to the game is the baritone narrator, occasionally dropping in a few uplifting words such as “Awesome!” or “Excellent!” Is it me or does the narrator sound a little more malicious with this installment? I actually started to imagining the game being narrated by Mortal Kombat‘s Shao Kahn. It actually made the game just a little more interesting.
Bejeweled 3 is a pretty fun game and the addiction level still remains high; the game has already claimed an appalling amount of my precious time. My only real issue with Bejeweled 3 is that, beyond the new game types, there really isn’t much else to it. Though it has been six years since the last numbered game in the series, the gameplay hasn’t changed much and there isn’t a whole lot of extra content. I suppose I’m saying this because I’m a person who likes to get my dollars’ worth out of a game and $20 seems too high a price for the total package.
Though the gameplay hasn’t changed much since the original came out nearly a decade ago, Bejeweled 3 is still a whole lot of fun and as addictive as ever. This old time vampire still has some fangs. The price may be steep, but with great graphics, catchy music, and an abundance of game modes makes this the best Bejeweled ever made. If you do decide to pick it up, prepare to say “just on more level” over and over again.
+ Addictive as ever
+ Pretty graphics
+ Quest mode is short but fun
– Not a lot of bang for the buck