|Dev: PopCap Games|
|Pub: PopCap Games|
|Release: December 7, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: N/A|
There are a few other gimmicks to keep you playing. In a nod to RPGs, every point you earn helps you "level up," though there really isn't much of an advantage to getting to the higher levels. Also, you can unlock various achievements, some of which are quite challenging. Completionists and people easily obsessed with leveling systems should watch out, but for the rest of us, these features are just bells and whistles.
A game this simple doesn't need top-notch graphics to succeed, but Bejeweled 3 provides them anyway. Every screen bursts with color and life, the animations are smooth, and the visual effects that occur when you complete a level are impressive. Those with low-end machines can dial down the game's graphical performance, of course; pretty much any machine made in the last several years will run Bejeweled 3. For a game of this type, it's the perfect combination of dazzle and performance.
The sound is probably this title's worst feature. The effects are fine, but the music is truly obnoxious -- outside of Zen mode, you mainly hear hyper dance tracks that speed up as time runs out. It didn't take me long to nix the in-game tracks and run iTunes in the background instead. Bejeweled may be a casual game, but its addictive nature has been known to inspire marathon sessions, so the developers should have known better (than) to use songs that become grating so quickly.
While you may want to wait for a sale to knock a few bucks off the retail price, Bejeweled 3 is a good investment for longtime fans and a great place for newcomers to start. It's an irresistible blend of top-notch production values, simple gameplay, and endless small innovations to keep that gameplay fresh.
CCC Freelance Writer