Application Review: Bejeweled

Swap two jewels, match three in a line, score some points. Out of moves? Game over. Such a simple framework for a game started in 2001 by the well-known developer Popcap. It has since evolved greatly and fits the touchscreen gaming platform perfectly. First appearing in touchscreen format for Palm OS, it was quickly ported after iOS devices received the 2.0 update; it really didn’t gain too many new updates though. That is, until now. With the new Bejeweled, an upgrade to their hit Bejeweled 2, the gameplay is faster paced, the graphics refined, audio improved, replay still there, and its price dropped. These aspects turn Bejeweled into a must-have for any puzzler out there.  Read on for the full review: 

Gameplay

Bejeweled really doesn’t stray far from its roots in this update. However, it is an update, and new ideas, along with some game modes, are generated. The game as a whole becomes more exciting as chains grow, explosions grow in number, and special gems do much more. Everything just seems a lot more refined.

In case you are new to bejeweled, the game is set up really simply. You are given a grid of 64 squares, and in each square is a jewel of a certain color. You destroy jewels to gain points. To destroy these jewels, simply swap two jewels that are laterally or vertically next to each other. This is the main objective at in the most basic terms.

Popcap has, however, made the game more lively with their inclusion of different game modes and gems. Many of the gems have not changed since Bejeweled 2. The main differences is the change of the shining gem to a flaming one and a new effect for shining gems. The rainbow cube, also called the hypercube, has not changed at all. The gems must be activated by destroying it:

  • Flaming Gem: a flaming gem will blow up and destroy all gems that are directly around it. To create a flaming gem, line up 4 gems in a row.
  • Rainbow Cube: These are created by lining up 5 gems in a line. Swap this cube with any other gem on the grid and it will destroy all gems of the same color with a lively lightning effect.
  • Shining gem: These are created by lining up 5 gems in an L configuration. When these are destroyed, they will destroy all gems in their respective row and column. They will also destroy all gems of the same color with a lightning effect similar to that of the rainbow cube.
Bejeweled includes a wide variety of special gems to keep the game interesting.

Although each gem possesses some power on its own, they work better as a team. This requires strategy, but has massive point payoffs since they tend to create large combos.

Combos can help you score huge points in a single move. They are also fun to watch!

Besides the additions of the new shining gem, Popcap also introduced a new mode of gameplay to add to the dry, boring gameplay and spice things up. The unlimited mode has also been changed to the zen mode which will be explained more in the audio section. The classic mode still exists and hasn’t been touched while the new addition of diamond mine brings a new twist on the old classic:

  • Classic: this is the original game created in 2001. You swap gems until you are out of moves.
  • Zen: this is essentially the unlimited mode put to a more soothing theme. Just keep playing forever as this game mode never ends.
  • Diamond Mine: this is the new addition to the game, and it’s timed. The first few rows on the bottom of the game board have been filled with earth. You destroy this earth by making combinations adjacent to the earth. Destroy the earth so it lies below the drawn white line on the screen. By doing this you gain a time bonus. Due to the running clock, this mode is fast paced, exciting, and just fun!
The main screen includes 4 game modes. Blitz mode, however, is located in a different free app on the App Store.

As it’s depicted in the screenshot, Popcap includes Blitz mode in the main screen of the game. However, there is no Blitz mode built into the game, instead, this button serves as an advertisement to download Blitz mode. For being a premium game, they should have included Blitz mode in the first place.

With some minor improvements to the core gameplay, and an introduction of a new, faster-paced game mode, Bejeweled proves itself to be a nice improvement over its predecessor. The game still remains filled with Bejeweled’s fun, classic feel while the diamond mine mode adds a fresh new feel to the game.

Gameplay: ★★★★½

Graphics

Like the gameplay, the upgrades to graphics for Bejeweled were minor, but large in number. Instead of popping off eye-popping graphics, they took the old stuff and tweaked it a little. This not only gives the game a sense of refinement, but also gives it a new face. The updates to the graphics are welcome as well.

As stated earlier, everything was tweaked just a little since the graphics in Bejeweled 2 were actually quite good. The jewels have better detailing. Explosions are bigger, lighting shines brighter, and even the warping from level to level looks cooler. The animations have been revamped entirely as well and give the game more of a grand feeling. Everything just runs smoothly as well.

The space warp still follows the same idea, but the textures have much better quality compared to the predecessor.

Besides the minor additions to the graphics, popcap also added a new feature to the graphics that hasn’t been seen in Bejeweled before. Replays have finally come. This is something I would never have seen coming, but it’s still well welcomed. Replays allow you to see the long combo you just did in slow motion just in case you missed a beat.

The main improvements in the graphical region was made on the actual in-game graphics. The menus still hold the same cleanliness as Bejeweled 2. Although it’s an improvement over the old game, it isn’t as noticeable as the in-game graphics were. The menus are clean, buttons clear, and the organization is simple.

Although there aren’t huge improvements, the menus have a new styling.

Popcap went about and tweak every graphic just a little bit. Although they are each small on their own, they add up to something big and give the entire game an enhanced feeling to it. The graphics are not an eyesore and really something you can come to enjoy. That’s a huge compliment for any puzzle game.

Graphics: ★★★★★

Audio

A bountiful amount of minor adjustments everywhere has been a long living theme for Bejeweled and the audio is no exception to this theme. However, instead of adjusting a few things, Popcap to the initiative to giving a bigger meaning the unlimited zen mode.

The zen mode, besides being unlimited offers users the ability to relax and enjoy the puzzle game to its fullest extent. Allowing users to choose from different calming background noises, you can instantly be warped directly to a waterfall, ocean, or even just in the forest. Away from the world, it’s just you, relaxation, and a fun game of bejeweled. Besides the music, you also have the option to choose from different music to keep this calming sensation going.

Zen mode allows you to choose a number of different audio setups to keep you in a meditative state.

Contrary to the music in zen mode, diamond mine has a really fast, up-beat song playing in the background to remind you that timer is still ticking. This creates the illusion that time is actually moving faster than it actually is and makes the game that much more exciting, which is useful for a puzzle game that is, at its core, slower paced.

Outside the ample amount of music, sound effects are scattered out throughout the game. The narrating voice states how good your combo is and will welcome you each time you play the game. Explosions, electricity, and even lazer gun sounds come with specific special gems and make the game that much more lively.

The audio in Bejeweled really connects with both the gameplay and the graphics. This allows it to really take over and create a well rounded game in general. Everything is there, even some unthought of, outside-the-box extras as well.

Audio: ★★★★★

Replay

One of the strengths of any puzzle game is to actually include replay. Since games can be generated at random, no two games will ever be the same. Puzzlers also tend to have a good additive nature to them as well. Bejeweled is no different in both of these aspects. Of course, this is dependent on how you feel about puzzle games.

The zen mode is an unlimited, worry free mode that will definitely kill that fifteen minutes you need and keep you relaxed and calm while doing it. If you don’t have those fifteen minutes, the diamond mine mode will suffice. This really can take less than five minutes to complete a round and is adrenaline rushing, for a puzzle game anyways, while doing it.

However, if you are one that still requires some sort of achievement system, Bejeweled does have you covered this time around. With new achievements, it’ll have to striving to become the best jewel busting, diamond mining player you can be.

Achievements are a nice addition to the game since it does add replay value.

Bejeweled offers plenty of replay value in each of its three modes of play. However, this would be useless if it didn’t have an addictive quality to it. Thankfully for us, it does have that addictive quality to it as it’s one of those games I keep turning to when I’m waiting in line or just bored to death.

Replay: ★★★★★

Value

Bejeweled 2 sold for about 3 dollars on the App Store, and it was actually worth the money. The updated sequel Bejeweled, however, sells for one third of that price. At this price, Popcap is offering players countless upgrades over the old version. The update is well welcomed as everything just seems better. It just goes to show that a bunch of tiny changes will add up to a nice big one. I do however despise the idea of leaving out Blitz mode from this installment and making it another app. That button basically sits in the game as an advertisement contributing nothing at all to the actual game. Overall, the game provides great gameplay, graphics, and audio. Adding in the addictive qualities, it’s well worth its money.

Value: ★★★★½

Final Thoughts

Popcap comes in once again and updates the classic Bejeweled 2 after its long run. This update is a well needed one as well since the old version was getting dry and old. It may seem like it’s just a number of unneeded upgrades. It may seem like you’re buying the same game again. It may seem like they are going backwards from Bejeweled 2 to Bejeweld. However, all these improvements do give the game a better sense of quality overall. If you loved Bejeweled 2, you’ll surely love the updated version of Bejeweled; it’s basically a new trick for an old dog.

Overall Score

† All prices are in US currency.
This review was written by the iFans.com Review Team. Cumulative scores are rounded to the nearest half or full star.
All accessories, applications, themes, tweaks, or other products were purchased by iFans at their respective prices unless stated otherwise.
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