MSRP: $4.99 (price may vary by platform)
Platforms: Windows, Mac, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Windows Phone, Nintendo DS,
The original Bejeweled by PopCap Games was the first truly successful of the casual match-3 games, which has lead to countless similar games (and not a few sequels). I’d played Bejeweled quite a few times in a web browser, as well as the Bejeweled Blitz version that’s popular on Facebook, but I’d never actually owned a Bejeweled game until I picked up Bejeweled 3 in a bundle.
In case you’re one of the three people in the known universe who have never played a match-3 game, you do get a little mini-tutorial (as well as tips during gameplay) unless you elect to turn off hints. Bejeweled 3 comes with four “standard” modes, and four unlockable “secret” modes, which is a fair amount of content variation for a casual game.
In Classic mode, you match gems in order to fill up a score bar at the bottom of the screen. Once the bar is filled, you proceed to the next level. All the gems are rearranged, but you retain any unused special gems from the previous level. Once you cannot make a match on the board, it’s game over. There are no time limits in the mode – you can take as long as you like to make matches, and hints are available if you just can’t find that match. Reaching level 5 in Classic unlocks poker mode, where you need to create poker hands by matching the same colored gems.
Lightning mode is the timed-mode: you will have to make matches quickly, and there are special gems with numbers on them which will go into a time bar at the top of the screen. After the time is up, your timer will refill from the bar, and you’ll have that long to continue making matches (and to again refill your time bar). The game is over when you run out of time and you have no points in your time bar. Reaching 100,000 points in this mode unlocks Ice Storm, where you need to keep ice blocks from reaching the top of the board by making matches to decrease the height of the columns.
In Zen mode, you get more relaxing music, unlimited time, and the game makes sure that there is always another move to be made. This is a nice feature for those of us who like to use low-thought repetitive game tasks to unwind (although personally, I’m much more likely to go to a tile-matching game accompanied by my own music). Reaching level 5 in Zen mode will unlock Butterflies, which is perhaps the least zen-like mode, where you have to make matches with special butterfly tiles before the reach the top of the gameboard.
Quest mode involves match 3 puzzles, and minigames. Once you complete four of the minigames, you will open up Diamond Mine mode, which is a timed mode that awards points for clearing dirt & stone tiles by matching gems next to them, enabling you to find the treasure underneath.
If you are a fan of basic match-3 gameplay, there’s certainly a good amount of variety in this little $5 package. One of the things I like about most casual games is that they have pretty much infinite replay value. Bejeweled 3 is a game I find myself going back to fairly regularly, because it’s so low commitment, and yet still satisfying.