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Posted by moonhead on Apr 1, 2011
Review: Bejeweled Blitz / PopCap / Xbox Live

Review: Bejeweled Blitz / PopCap / Xbox Live

How Does A Game That Only Lasts 60 Seconds Take Me Over Month To Write?

I am flatly refusing to answer the above question on the grounds it will make look a lazy bastard and upset my good friend and G4A overlord Drew. Instead I am going to just get on and review PopCap’s 60 second brain and finger dexterity workout.

If you have not played Bejeweled by now in one of its many guises, where on God’s earth have you been hiding? I mean there is a Bejeweled in one form or another on every format possible to imagine but I suppose as the reviewer I need to enlighten those few who have not played it yet (You gits!) in the shortest way possible to explain. Bejeweled is a match-3 puzzler by this I mean you move a cursor around a grid of coloured gems and swap two gems up, down or left and right to match 3 or more colours in a horizontal or vertical line, they then disappear with explosion of colour and pyrotechnics and new ones drop in from the top of the play area. This version, Bejeweled Blitz is so-called because you only have 60 seconds to amass as high a score as possible.

There are two game variations on offer the classic mode as explained previously and twist. In twist instead of selecting one coloured gem you select 4 and as the game name suggests you twist them clockwise or anti clockwise to match your 3 gems. No matter which mode you play you can score chains of combos to increase your score. There are also ‘power gems’ these are different variations of the coloured gems that flash and explode in different ways when matched. Also the more you play the more XP you gain meaning higher scores the more you play.

As Alexander the Meerkat would say “Simples” but the annoying furry little rodent thing would be wrong. This is because, as many that have played Bejeweled before will tell you, it is addictive as cream buns iced with crack. Add in Xbox live play with friends and constantly updating high score boards and this game should increase visitors to gaming addiction rehab centres across the globe, tenfold.

There two online modes, party and battle. In party mode you can play with up to 16 friends, whilst you play you get to see your friends high scores and this leads to that “I am going to beat your score before 5am” factor. The other mode, Battle, allows you face off against one other player and see their board live on-screen next to yours. Not ground breaking but more than enough to get the competitive spirit flowing freely.

The only problem with the game itself, is the how they have set up the controls. See I have played Bejeweled Blitz on both Facebook and iPhone. And both the touch screen of the iPhone and the mouse control of Facebook allow for a level of ease and dexterity not capable with a cumbersome old game pad. So when faced with age-old problem of how to adapt a game more suited to the methods I have just mentioned what do PopCap go and do but fudge it completely. You move your cursor around the screen with either the analogue stick or D-Pad. Then to swap your gem you have to hit the corresponding joy-pad face button to the direction you want swap the gem with. So Y=up, A=down, X=left and, before I finish with B=right I’m already grinding to a halt and feeling confused instead of blitzing the grid of colours by just clicking/touching and dragging in the direction I want. As I said earlier it is a complete fudge, not a complete game breaker but one that will make me go and play the game on a format with more suitable controls.

Although the control scheme is a big problem for me it still does not stop this game being super addictive and fun to play. A bigger problem for me is price, 800 points may not sound a lot but when you compare to 59p on the iPhone and free on Facebook it starts to look a little overpriced. Even more so when you think the other three versions play better. So in short Bejeweled Blitz is the same good old-fashioned addictive puzzling fun it always has been. But, and it is a major but, it can be found cheaper and better elsewhere. Be warned.

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