Bejeweled 3 (Review)

“PopCap goes back to their roots to give us a good reminder as to how they own our souls.”

It has been several years since Bejeweled was really even on the tip of anyone’s tongue, and after PopCap soared to even greater heights from the success of Peggle and Plants vs Zombies, it seemed like a strange idea for them to decide that making a Bejeweled 3 was the most logical next step for them to make. I was skeptical at first, but after playing the latest Bejeweled I can safely say that I’ve laid my doubts to rest.

Bejeweled 3 is everything we know and love from the numbered Bejeweled titles and more. While Bejeweled 2 prided itself in having two game modes as well as one or two hidden bonus modes, Bejeweled 3 boasts four standard modes and four bonus modes. This gives you quite a substantial variety in terms of how you’re going to play with your shiny little gems.

Classic mode is what we’re all familiar with. Break as many gems by aligning three or more of a kind together and amass as many points from doing so before you end up with no more possible moves. This mode has received little if any upgrades at all, but still somehow feels fresh. I attribute this to the improved graphics and catchy soundtrack.

The time attack mode in Bejeweled 3 is called “Lightning” and is fairly addicting. While the idea is to get the highest score possible before time runs out, it is now possible to extend your timer by breaking specific gems that grant time bonuses. They are plentiful at first, but as the time gems become more and more rare, Lightning becomes a very nerve-wracking experience.

Lining out the rest of the default game modes are Zen, which allows you to play for an infinite length of time without losing, and the Quest mode. I like the latter as it presents challenges to you that are always different from the last one that you tackled. There are quite a few quests to blow through and, predictably, they get harder as they go.

The four bonus modes are Butterflies, Diamond Mine, Ice Storm, and Poker. They all add quite a twist to the gameplay, and one of them I find to be so addicting that it could be it’s own game.

In Butterflies, random gems are designated as butterflies. These butterfly gems must be destroyed before they reach the top of the screen, due to a hungry spider lingering along the top of the game board. if the spider gets his eight legs on one of your butterflies, it’s game over. Butterflies starts off easy enough, but I found that it quickly became very frustrating and tense, and I haven’t enjoyed playing it much.

Diamond Mine is easily my favourite part of Bejeweled 3 and is the addicting part that I mentioned. In this mode, the bottom half of the screen is covered in dirt and the top half contains gems. You have to create combinations that are directly adjacent to the dirt, which destroys it. Players must get rid of all the dirt above a certain goal line. When all dirt above the line is cleared, the timer (which I forgot to mention) fills back up and the dirt increases yet again. It’s a fairly repetitive game mode that just involves doing the same thing over and over, but it’s very strategic and I like how there is always a very clear goal for the player.

In Ice Storm, there are pillars of ice that slowly fill to the top of the screen. If one reaches the top and stays there for a moment, it’s game over. To prevent this from happening, players must make gem combinations, which destroys or lowers the ice pillars in whatever columns the gems were matched in.

Poker is a very interesting mode and I commend PopCap for coming up with such a neat idea, but overall this game mode isn’t very enjoyable. The goal is to make various poker hands using the gems on the board. The better the hand, the better your score. The problem with this mode is that it mostly forces you to constantly try for four of a kind of flushes. I found that this limited what I wanted to do in the game mode, and really wasn’t too enjoyable.

Aside from game modes, Bejeweled 3 doesn’t really change a whole lot aside from a new paint job and an improved soundtrack. There are fiery gems that destroy entire horizontal and vertical lines of gems, which is a pretty interesting change. Hypercubes also received a very nice visual upgrade as well.

There are various badges to collect (consider them to be the game’s equivalent to PS3 trophies or 360 achievements), but they are pointless and do not affect anything from what I’ve noticed. Perfectionists may want to try to collect them all, though.

So that’s it. Bejeweled 3 is, well, Bejeweled. If you didn’t like the previous games then you probably won’t enjoy this one either. However, if you do enjoy Bejeweled, then this game will probably amuse you, and the neat bonus modes will provide you with some much needed variety.

Final Score