Monday, December 26, 2011

Mini-Review: Bejeweled 2 vs. 3, and a Feature Request


Yes, I'm quite late to the Bejeweled craze. Just bought Bejeweled 2 the other day as a Christmas present for myself, and I'm right in the middle of the "playing so much I see gems on my eyelids when I try to sleep" phase. And no, I'm not really very good at all. My high score is 200,000 and change. Some guy apparently played for five months straight and scored nearly 2 to the 31st power.

For the two or three people on earth who don't know about the game, it's a "matching" game -- a board full of jewels, each of which can be toggled one space in any direction. The goal is to create vertical or horizontal groups of three or more gems. Those groups disappear and new gems "drop down" from the top to fill in the space created.

Extra points can be earned by creating groups of four (this creates a special gem that explodes, taking out a bunch of gems and racking up points, when it is in turn matched up with at least two more) or five (this creates a special gem that can be matched with any other, and takes out all gems of that type on the board). I read somewhere that even bigger groups are theoretically possible, but haven't noticed them yet.

So anyway, it's an addictive game of spatial relationships. My guess is that in the 10 years or so since its introduction, it has pretty much replaced Tetris as the premier example of that class of games. If they're considered the same class, that is. I'm not exactly a game guru.

So anyway, I downloaded Bejeweled 3 earlier today, thinking I might buy it as well (on sale for $9.95). All of PopCap's games come with a free hour of play before it's "Buy or Bye."

I find it strange that 3 doesn't look as nice as 2 (we're talking about the Mac version here; others may vary). Even at "ultra" resolution, the gems aren't as large, as well-defined, or as realistic. The game just isn't as pretty. I may still buy it for "Lightning" mode, a slight variant of my preferred Bejeweled 2 option, "Action" mode (both modes are "timed" -- you're racing against the clock). Haven't decided for sure yet. If Bejeweled 3 was as easy on the eyes as Bejeweled 2, I wouldn't hesitate. But right now I'm thinking I'll be mostly playing 2, whether I pay for 3 or not.

There's one feature I'd add to the next version of Bejeweled if I was the guy who gave orders at PopCap. In "Action" (2) and "Lightning" (3) modes, the game ends when you run out of time. I assume (you know what happens when you assume, right?) that this is always a case of "there are matches there that you didn't find in time" rather than "no possible moves are left." If that's the case, it would be nice if the game ended by highlighting the matches the player could have been making when the clock ran out. The not knowing what I missed aggravates me.

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