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Review | Bejeweled Blitz

A twist on a classic

Format: Xbox 360 | Genre: Puzzle | Publisher: PopCap | Developer: Torpex Games | Release date: 23/02/2011 | Price: 800 MS points (£6.80)

A sea of gems, glistening and begging to be matched-up and destroyed is all Greg Giddens sees when he closes his eyes. All thanks to BEJEWELED BLITZ.

SIMPLE PUZZLE games like Bejeweled capture huge audiences due to their easy to learn and hard to master mechanics and the addictive design of making optimum use of such simplicities. Hours upon hours can be lost in puzzle solving, often to the compulsion to beat personal high scores. Bejeweled Blitz Live maintains this but instead focuses on its more competitive nature. And this is achieved through one simple change in the fundamentals; adding a 60 second timer.

It’s still a matter of matching same colour gems in rows of three or more – horizontally or vertically – to destroy the rows and collect points, but the timer forces you to play at a far quicker pace than previous versions. It also adds depth to the simple design. Special gems can still be created through matching certain quantities of gems in a row, for example four in a row creates a flame jewel which explodes when matched up. And a few combinations from the PC only Bejeweled 3 make an appearance like the supernova jewel which explodes with tremendous force, and the lightning jewel which takes out the entire length and width of a row. The increased pace means you’re looking to make the best use of the pattern of gems you’re provided with, actively searching for opportunities to create these special gems and chain match-ups.

Gets the blood pumping

Indeed the timer changes the feel of the game completely. It’s no longer a relaxing time sink. It’s tighter and more frantic and this twist in the fundamentals easily justifies owning both this and other versions of the game. Speaking of twists nicely brings me to the new mode also available in Bejewelled Blitz Live, Twist mode. Rather than switching the position of jewels one by one, Twist has you turn four jewels at a time – clockwise or anticlockwise – in order to match up colours. It’s a pleasantly different twist – if you’ll forgive the pun – on the standard, classic mode. And with the addition of the 60 second timer, it too benefits from the same shift in pace.

The competitiveness is also emphasised by the new additions. 60 seconds is no time at all to rack up a high score and the ability of foresight to plan your combinations and acquirement of special gems, not to mention a fair share of luck, both come into play to help you score a place on the global and friends leaderboards. Pre-release play gives me a chance to revel in my spot in the top 30 players position with deluded pride, however once realising  I’m certain to be demoted.

Further emphasis is placed on competition with the addition of the online and local Battle modes for both game variants, pitting you against another human for the high scores. Additionally, Party Mode allows for you to play against your friends in a dynamic party leaderboard, adding further competition to the proceedings.

For the Xbox 360 crowd Bejeweled Blitz Live introduces a few of the improvements seen in Bejeweled 3, in particular the special gems, that raised the experience offered by the second instalment to a tighter more entertaining level. The introduction of the timer shifts the focus to competitive play and offers a completely new experience on top of the familiar premise. What it all results in is the same addictiveness and a new, even more enjoyable, sense of achievement on hitting those ridiculous scores. Say goodbye to your loved ones and brace yourself for a title that could very well keep you amused throughout the year.

9/10

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