Review of Bejeweled 3 by PopCap: 8 games in 1
This game has provided me with many hours of fun. The package contains a number of variants on the classic gem-matching game, each needing a different strategy and suiting a different mood, so the fun is not going to stop for a long time.
I decided to buy the game after getting frustrated with playing Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook and other games web sites. For me, the one-minute game play was not enough time to explore all the ways in which gems can be matched and exploded.
With Bejeweled 3, I have the option of choosing games where I play against the clock or others with unlimited time for completion. Any game can be left at any time and picked up again later.
The graphics are superb, with the screen practically melting during major gem explosions. Each game variant comes with a different soundtrack. The "voice" is still here, telling me that I am: Good, Excellent, Awesome, Spectacular, Extraordinary, and even Unbelievable.
Opening the game for the first time, there is a choice of four variants: Classic, Lightning, Quest and Zen. Playing these will eventually unlock four hidden games.
Classic mode and meaning of gems
Classic mode does not have a time limit. It continues until there are no moves left. When you move from one level to the next, you are taken on a whirling flight through a psychedelic tunnel.
This is the standard mode of the game. You have to swap gems so as to get, at the very least, a row of three matching gems. This will cause them to disappear and new gems take their place. However, when more than three gems are matched, new types of gems are created, which increase the score and can be exploded in various ways to get even higher scores.
All the gems featured in Classic mode appear in all the other variants.
Making a row of four gems produces a Flame Gem with flames around it. If you go on to make a row of at least three gems with a flame gem in it, the flame gem will explode and shatter all the gems in direct contact with it.
A Star Gem is produced by getting matching gems into a T-shape or L-shape. This gem has a shining star inside it. When a star gem explodes on being placed in a matching row, it also explodes all the other gems that are in the same vertical column and horizontal row with it.
Placing five matching gems in a row produces a Hypercube which takes the form of a rotating box with swirling colours. Hypercubes are used to explode every gem of a particular colour. To do this, you need to swap the hypercube with a gem of that colour. In addition, swapping two hypercubes with each other produces total meltdown and destroys every gem in sight!
Finally, it is sometimes possible to get six matching gems lined up into order to produce a Supernova. This looks like a star gem with flames around it. Placing a supernova into a matching row will make it explode to destroy all gems in the same row and column as well as all other gems with which it is in direct contact.
This is a time-limited variant of the game, which is very similar to the Bejeweled Blitz played on Facebook and elsewhere on the web.
The objective is to score as many points as you can in one minute. However, this deadline can be increased by matching the Time Gems that are unique to this game and appear in addition to the classic gems. Time gems look sparkly and have a number 5 or 10 showing. When matched, they add 5 or 10 seconds, respectively, to the deadline. It is also possible to extend the deadline by playing fast enough to get the Blazing Speed bonus, which is also unique to this game.
When the time runs out, the game goes into its Last Hurrah. In this, all the remaining flame, star, hypercube and supernova gems are exploded. Any remaining 5-second time gems become flame gems and any 10-second time gems become star gems at this stage.
This is a collection of 40 mini-games based on some of the Bejeweled 3 variant games. Each mini-game has its own specific objectives that are not necessarily the same as in normal version of the game.
For example, one mini-game requires you to match gems so as to turn the grid beneath them gold. The objective is to make the whole of the grid gold. Another one demands that you clear a specific number of gems in less than a specified number of moves.
The quests are done eight games at a time in five levels of increasing difficulty. Once you have completed all forty, this part of Bejeweled 3 is finished with respect to achievements and you get a Quest award. However, you can return to replay any of the games at any time.
This is the strangest take on Bejeweled that I have ever seen, but actually has its own charm. It is truly an endless game, which never times out or runs out of moves. You play it for as long as you wish.
The idea of the Zen mode is to induce a meditative mood and help relaxation. As well as being used for stress relief, it is suggested that this mode can be used as a tool in kicking bad habits.
You have a choice of new-age style music or ambient sounds such as bird song or sounds of the sea, for example. You can also select to display positive affirmations for things such as prosperity, positive thinking, weight loss, etc. Presumably, because your eyes are mainly occupied with matching gems, these affirmations, which appear at the bottom of the screen, are internalised in a less conscious way.
You can also select a breath modulation mode, in which you have to try and match one of several breathing patterns that display as a moving line. This is based on the theory of using biofeedback to achieve relaxation. Personally, I find it impossible to deal with this and match gems at the same time.
Finally, if you play with headphones, you can select the binaural mode. This plays different, very quiet, sounds into each ear. Apparently, this causes specific types of brain waves to be produced. You can select different types of brain waves to aim for:alpha: for meditative reflection
- alpha: for meditative reflection
- beta: for alertness
- chakra circle: to improve energy flow and align the chakras
- chill: to de-stress and get rid of troubling thoughts
- delta: for deep relaxation
- euphoria: to become filled with positive energy
Poker, hidden game
Poker is a hidden game, which is unlocked when you get to Level 5 playing the Classic mode. Here, the idea is to create "poker hands" from a series five cards produced when gems are matched. Each card has the colour of the matched gems. Scoring from lowest to highest:
- pair: two cards of the same colour
- spectrum: five cards each different
- 2 pairs
- 3 of a kind: three cards of the same colour
- full house: 3 cards of one colour and 2 of another colour
- 4 of a kind: four cards of the same colour
- flush: five cards of the same colour
Matching special gems increases the score, as well as causing explosions which help to make larger changes to the board. A wild card, which is used to give the highest scoring hand possible, is made by matching a hypecube.
At points in the game, some of the hands become forbidden, showing a skull next to them. If you end up with a forbidden hand, you have a 50% chance of losing the game.
Butterflies, hidden game
Reaching level five in Zen unlocks Butterflies. Here you have butterfly gems, which move up the board. A butterfly reaching the top is eaten by a spider, which finishes the game. You score points by removing butterflies from the board, either by matching them with gems of the same colour, or by exploding them with special gems. Exploding special gems also helps in that certain butterflies will move back down the board.
Diamond Mine, hidden game
You unlock Diamond Mine by succeeding in four Quest mini-games. This mode is my favourite, partly because of the Indiana Jones-style soundtrack.
Here you move down the board, digging into the earth as you match or explode gems. As you work downwards, you find gold and unearth artefacts and crystals, which add to the score. The game has a 90-second time limit, to which you can add extra time by moving down fast enough. Although digging down requires you to match gems at the bottom of the board, you need to keep watch on potential exploding gems, especially star gems and hypercubes, as well as good line-ups that appear higher up and make use of them while you can. Once they disappear off the top of the board, they can no longer be used.
Ice Storm, hidden game
Unlock Ice Storm by playing Lightning until you reach a total of 100,000 points from all games.
For me, this is by far the most difficult game. I tend to play it far less that the others, partly because I am useless at it, but partly because the I find the increasing hysteria of the sound track quite stressful, which substantially diminishes my enjoyment in playing.
You need to clear and explode gems to prevent columns of ice rising from the bottom to the top of the board. Once a column reaches the top, a second one starts rising inside it. Once this is allowed to reach the top of the board, the game is lost.
Scores and statistics
Bejeweled 3 keeps a tally of all your scores for each game separately, and also gives you an overall rank and score.
If other people play the game on the same computer, you can set up individual users for each. In this case, all individual game score tables will display the best scores from all users.
There is also a badge system. Badges are awarded for various achievements in individual games and on an overall level. For example, badges are obtained for destroying a certain number of gems in a single move, or for creating a supernova. Each badge has a bronze, silver, gold and platinum level.
A statistics page will provide you with all sorts of fascinating or useless information, depending on your inclinations, including a tally of the total time spent playing. According to the statistics, I have an inordinate preference for matching white gems.
I have found Bejeweled 3 great fun to play. It offers sufficient different playing modes to keep my interest and to suit different modes. Being able to leave off any game and pick it up later is very useful. I can have a quick burst of play when I need a brief break from work, knowing no minimum time commitment is required.