Bejeweled 3

Recently the mainstream media has been “covering” an ongoing debate as to whether or not videogames are addictive. The debate struggles for legitimacy for several reasons, key among which is the fact that clearly many videogames very much are addictive and so they bloody well should be. Much of the time it is, essentially, the point.

Bejeweled has been one of the market leaders in that particular field for a long while now, in no small part due to PopCap’s seemingly rock-solid understanding of what people want to be playing and how they want to be playing it. This is the studio also behind Plants vs. Zombies, Zuma and Peggle; their name is already a byword for fresh, compelling and vibrant takes on familiar genres.

The difference with Bejeweled is that I go back to it regularly. I have the others just as readily available at my fingertips but I’ve grown bored of them and their ilk after varying amounts of time. Bejeweled’s appeal persists more so than any other. For starters, there’s no luck to curse as in Peggle, and no shambling, pressurising enemy as in Plants vs. Zombies. You can play Bejeweled at your own pace and it will fit your mood gladly, pleasingly and expertly, sort of like Deanna Troi in a hot tub and I’ll stop now.

As with its predecessors, you’ll spend your time in Bejeweled 3 matching lines of coloured gems, causing them to vanish with a satisfying swish. Matching longer lines creates explosive gems of increasing ferocity, and so if things are going well then every now and then you will experience a visceral cascading explosion of colour right in your face, and are likely to feel giddy and used for a few minutes thereafter.

The graphics are lush and crisp, scaling up nicely in resolution to an “Ultra” mode, and the sound design is nuanced and joyful. The music is genuinely relaxing more often than not, a trait best exhibited in Zen mode, which actually makes an effort to incorporate relaxation techniques into gameplay. A healthy bunch of other modes are squeezed from the format, some of which will need to be unlocked by reaching certain targets. Additionally, there are “Badges” to earn for meeting certain conditions, thus serving the role of achievements, and adding a little extra motivated lifespan for those who succumb to such things.

Lightning mode is a quick, feverish blast, with you having to match gems as quickly as possible to earn more time and more score. The unlockable Diamond Mine mode offers a less punishing but similarly gratifying fix of gem pulverizing fun, and provided me with the chief diversion from the simple compulsion of Classic mode. Quest mode mixes things up further, with varying objectives to take on in little chunks of gameplay that usually fall just the right side of challenging. Poker mode throws some well thought-out light gambling gameplay into the hat.

Your score and success in the various modes contributes to an overall XP bar, which effectively plays the role of a long, slender carrot to constantly work towards, with you cast in the role of rabid, gem-obsessed donkey.

To summarise, there are a great number of things I worry about in life. How can I pay the bills? Is the coalition government killing the Liberal Democrat party? What is that stain on the lapel of my best suit? Should I have brown sauce or ketchup with this bacon? Where did I leave my kebab last night? Should I wear my best suit whilst eating this bacon sandwich? Bejeweled 3 helps me to forget about all this and more. Pure and true escapism, without a sandbox world or contrived plot point in sight.







One response to “Bejeweled 3”

  1. GraeXZ avatar

    Oh my god, yes! I had no idea this was even in the making, oh how I love you Popcap <3

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