It seems like ďcasualĒ has become a bit of a dirty word to some gamers. I can sort of see why considering the amount of garbage games out there, such as Random Wii Compilation 34 and Lame Xbox Live Arcade Game Redux. Good thing PopCap Games has nothing to do with that shovelware. Their puzzles games manage to both relaxing and maddening, but no matter how easy it is to get pissed when a level is just barely failed, their games are damn good. Take Bejeweled Twist, for example.
First of all, this ainít your grandaddyís Bejeweled. Now if your grandpa actually plays Bejeweled, thatís pretty awesome. What I mean is that there are plenty of changes, dare I say twists, from the original version released in 2004. I fondly recall wasting away my dull computer courses in high school by playing this game. Fast forward to now and Iím a college graduate working 40 hours a week for a wage most people would find laughable. Now thatís neither here nor there, so suffice to say, the third game in this gem swapping series is first-class fun.“Itís the same core game, but with enough changes to make it feel new.”The whole point of the game is to get three or more like-colored gems to match up on the grid. Originally, this was done by swapping a pair of gems that are side by side in order to create satisfying crash of the sparkly gems. The ruined gems are then filled in with new ones, and the mad swapping continues. The twist, and there is one if the title wasnít any indication, is that the amount of gems that can be switched at once have doubled. Now, a block of four can be rotated clockwise. Gems disappear if three are lined up horizontally or vertically. Lining up four gems creates a powerful blast that destroys a bunch of those pesky gems. If five are lined up, then the almighty lighting gem is created, which wreaks havoc on all that stands in its way. To be more specific, it destroys a bunch of gems in a spectacular fashion.
This whole twist thing might sound lame, but it really opens the game up and adds plenty of more options. I couldnít go back to playing the limited ďtwo at a timeĒ swap of the days when the economy was fairly strong. Imagine if Tetris replaced all of its iconic blocks with brand new ones (while still maintaining the sacred straight line) and added a few other bells and whistles. Itíd be a huge change in a game that everyone knows how to play, but itíd still be easy for all but the slowest people to pick up. Thatís sort of how I see Bejeweled Twist. Itís the same core game, but with enough changes to make it feel new.“Itís just pure puzzling with some excellent modes and few other frills. “Earlier, I mentioned how the stuff PopCap makes can be relaxing and maddening at the same time. This is because, with the exception of one mode, time isnít a factor. Itís all about moving the gems in the most efficient manner. In the classic mode, bombs are dropped more frequently as the level progresses. The only way to get rid of them is to match them with the appropriate gems. If it takes too many moves, the bomb goes off and eventually this will lead to a game over. I say ďeventuallyĒ because there is a wheel of chance that comes up, with means the difference between life and death (in the game, not in real life). Even if it lands on a life-saving spot, the next time a bomb goes off thereís a better chance it will be game over. At one point, this luck factor would have been frustrating, but after endless hours with the pseudo-game Peggle, Iíve grown to not only tolerate it, but enjoy it.
Blitz mode is where times comes into play. In five minutes, as many points as possible need to be nabbed. Some bombs still make an appearance, but the game switches from something methodical to a mad dash. This brilliant change of pace makes playing in quick bursts an easy endeavor. Another quality way to play are with challenges. A bit less frenzied than the blitz mode, the 13 different challenges each have six increasingly difficult levels. The tasks include destroying a certain amount of gems in one move, consecutively eliminating a number of rows without one bad move, and so on. Some of these are hard. Really hard. Still, at least there are a ridiculous amount of challenges to keep the hardcore busy.
Still, some people might overlook these kinds of games because they can be played in minimized windows and donít require powerful computers to run them. The music sounds like a yoga session, and there arenít even any characters. Itís just pure puzzling with some excellent modes and few other frills. Sometimes thatís all you need. Personally, Iíd usually take random gem swapping over dull bad guy shooting. Unless, of course, the bad guy shooting is done really well. That usually isnít that case though.
Eight out of ten
- Diverse modes
- The added wrinkle in the gameplay is excellent
- Satisfying visuals
- If you hate these kind of games, then this wonít change your mind. You are a sad individual if you really feel that way, though.