Bejeweled 3 Review for PC

Bejeweled 3 Review for PC

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Within five minutes of firing up my review copy of Bejeweled 3, I knew for certain that even after nine years, the game’s basic formula still holds up. A few quick rounds in Classic mode got me hooked all over again, and when my non-gamer wife saw the screen, she too became addicted. We spent several hours exploring what the game had to offer (and also fighting over who got to sit at the keyboard). We’ve returned to it often in the days since.

At a sticker price of $19.95, Bejeweled 3 needs to provide a lot more than the franchise’s basic formula. After all, you can play previous iterations for free online, and countless other companies have cloned the game, tweaking the “match three” setup just enough to avoid copyright lawsuits. So, does it deliver?

Bejeweled 3 Screenshot

Perhaps ten or fifteen dollars would be a better price range for the content, but the basic answer is a definite “yes.” The developers came up with some truly enchanting new ways to play, and fans of the series will be missing out if they don’t give this a shot.

There are a total of eight gameplay modes; four are available right away, and the other four unlock after you rack up minor achievements in the others.

Many are straightforward, or even taken straight from previous versions of the game. Classic is just a slightly modified version of the original game (matches of four and five give you flaming gems and hypercubes, which allow you to clear the board more quickly), Lightning is played on a timer, and Zen is just a never-ending version of the game with soothing music and some ridiculous new-age features (“breath modulation” is one).

Bejeweled 3 Screenshot

The new unlockable modes are more innovative. For example, in Butterflies, butterfly-shaped gems start at the bottom and move up one row per turn, and if you don’t eliminate them before they get to the top, the game ends. In Poker, you have to match as many of the same type of gem as much as possible to make poker-style hands (for example, three of one type and two of another is a “full house”). In Ice Storm, ice columns creep up from the bottom of the screen, and you have to take them out by creating matches within them. In Diamond Mine, you have to create matches at the very bottom of the screen.

Lastly, in Quest mode, you play through five worlds with eight stages each, and each stage presents a specific challenge. You might have to capture a certain number of butterflies, or score a certain number of points in a poker game. There are even gameplay modes that aren’t available in quick play. For example, one features a string with two weights on it, one representing red gems, the other blue. If you match too many of one color or the other, the weight that it represents falls to the bottom of the screen, and you fail. Another makes you eliminate bombs in a limited amount of time or turns.

Bejeweled 3 Screenshot

Quest mode will certainly keep your attention for a few hours, but for me, it prompted unfavorable comparisons to the Puzzle Quest series — which, in games that are no more expensive than this one, gives players a much deeper campaign experience. If PopCap wanted to keep the gameplay super-casual, that’s fine, but then it should have kept the price super-casual, too.

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.

Bejeweled 3 Screenshot

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.

Puzzle games don’t require great visuals, but this game provides them anyway. 5.0 Control
Point mouse at jewel. Click and drag. 2.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The sound effects are fine, but the music is almost instantly grating. 4.5 Play Value
The core gameplay is as addictive as ever, and the new modes are a blast to play. It’s a little pricey for a basic puzzle game, though. 4.2 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Eight ways to play: With so many new ways to play, you’ll find a perfect match for every mood!
  • Classic mode: Play the most popular puzzle game of the century, with powerful new gems and new ultra-smooth gameplay.
  • Quest mode: Journey through forty magical puzzles in this multifaceted Bejeweled challenge!
  • Zen mode: Tailor your experience with sights, sounds, and binaural beats to create your own relaxing retreat.
  • Lightning mode: Charge up with a challenging timed game of heart-pounding, gem-blasting fun!
  • Secret modes: Unlock four all-new games as you play.
  • Badges: Earn up to sixty-five badges to prove your multifaceted skills.
  • High-definition graphics: Bejeweled is more sparkling than ever before!
  • Ultra-smooth action: Make multiple matches while new gems fall into place.

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