The Puzzle Game King!
For those who haven’t played Bejeweled before, the object of the game is to collect sets of 3, 4, or 5 of the various jewels in the game. You can do this by either aligning them horizontally or vertically, or in an “L” shape if the opportunity arises. The jewels come in all different shapes and colors, and drop down from the top of the screen in random sets of three. You collect the jewels by lining them up with 2, 3, or 4 others of the same shape and color, which creates a set of 3, 4, or 5 respectively. Doing this destroys them, earning you points, and creates the appropriate power gem if applicable to your set. More random jewels will drop down to fill gap(s) you have created as well. It’s incredibly addicting, and you keep doing it until either the timer runs out, or there are no more moves available to make a set depending on what your game type is. Power jewels are created by aligning four or five of the same type of jewel, act as sort of a power up giving you more points, and come in two sizes. If you can make a set of four jewels of the same shape and color you will get a Cluster Buster. These are extra shiny Jewels and work like bombs, detonating when placed in a set of the same type of jewels, and destroying everything around them earning you a lot of extra points. If you have two Cluster Busters next to each other and set one of them off, then both will blow up even if they aren’t representative of the same type of jewel. This can create sort of a domino effect as you chain explosions together for even more points, jewels, and largely is how you advance at the higher levels. The second type of power jewel is called a Galaxy Buster. You get one of these when you manage to combine five gems of the same shape and color in either a horizontal or vertical line, which is not easy to do. They count as a set in themselves. This is because when you swap them with another gem, they explode and take out all of the other gems on the board that are the same type as the one you swapped you it with. Needless to say they operate as sort of a free bee and are essential at the higher levels.
There are five game types available in Bejeweled 2 Deluxe Edition, four of which are available to you as soon as you install the game. The game modes are: classic, which is the original game with touched up graphics. Endless, which is a game that never ends since the game is constantly give you the jewels you need where you need them for combos, Puzzle, which is a mode that will take you around the games universe solving different puzzles with the jewels. Puzzle also acts sort of like the games story mode since it has an end and rewards with you with “congratulations” and the games credits. Then there is Action. This is a variant of Endless; however, unlike endless you are timed. How little time you have left is marked by how little of your progress bar to the next level remains, and how much time you have to complete the stage over all is shown by how rapidly the bar drops back from points you have accumulated to toward zero. Collecting Jewels in this mode will add time to the clock, and you will constantly be fighting said clock trying to get your progress bar up to 100 so you can advance to the next level. The fifth game mode is Twilight. It is un-lockable and becomes available to you once you have reached 200,000 points, or level 20 in Classic mode. When you unlock Twilight you will see a little popup appear at the bottom of your screen that looks sort of like those achievement notices in the Xbox 360 and Windows Live games. To access Twilight you just click on the question mark between puzzle and endless in the games lobby and you will Twilight appear where Classic used to be. In a nut shell, Twilight is a new version of Classic with some added twists. For starters, everything is darker, moves in slow motion, and your new random jewels come in from the bottom, as well as the top, when you make a set. This makes it considerably harder to set up your jewels for Power Gems, combo chains and so on. It also takes twice as long to level, making advancement a real challenge.
The games sound track features a variety of soothing ambient tones, which seem to fit the game perfectly, and definitely suck you in. You will hear every ambiance from galactic cruising music to stealthy spy music to serious thinking music, such as from “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” It’s a wide range no doubt, but it has all been juxtaposed into one half hour audio track and sounds great. The only thing that is not so great is that when it finishes it just loops back to the beginning. However, it’s doubtful that this will be a problem for most players since most aren’t likely to have a game go that long anyway.
There are some other changes that fans of the original may count as weaknesses. First and foremost is the tunnel effect that appears once you complete a level. Unlike in the original where you simply finished a level and kept going, in Bejeweled 2 when you finish a level that is it. You are taken to the next level, which has a different backdrop, and all the same gems that you had at the end of the last level; however, all of those gems have been rearranged from how you had them before. This is a good and bad thing on all accounts. It’s good because it makes the game easier since you don’t have to carefully think every move through so that you don’t screw yourself over down the line with a bad move you made three levels ago. However, at the same time it removes a lot of the challenge that was present in the original game, and can make setting up a chain, cluster buster, or galaxy buster much more difficult, especially at the early levels, which is where you got all your steam from in the original.
Another downside to Bejeweled 2 is that it only appears to be random. The formulas that govern each of the different game types are pretty basic. If you are good at math you should be able to figure them out very quickly. If you aren’t good at math you should be able to figure them out after you’ve spent enough time with the game. However, once you have figured out the formulas, Bejeweled 2 looses practically all of its challenge, and as a result, most of its appeal.
The new game types are a nice addition, but are pretty shallow and easy compared to the original classic mode. For this reason they really don’t give the game a lot of lasting appeal or replay value. You aren’t liable to spend nearly as much of your time in them as you are in the original Classic mode. Even Twilight, which is a great addition, but much too difficult to unlock for its own good, falls short. This is because while it’s very challenging and horribly disorienting at first, if you manage to figure out how to get far enough to unlock it, you will quickly figure out how it works. This is because adding new jewels from more than one direction mixes things up more and keeps the board fresh, allowing for many more matches and combos than was previously present. The final complaint with Bejeweled 2 is that it takes so many points to level at the higher levels that the standard alignment methods simply don’t work. The only way to level in a reasonable manner is by keeping a few Galaxy Busters on hand and set up combo chains with cluster busters for big points and a constant large influx of new gems. Now, mix that with the constantly shrinking timer of the Action mode and you get to a point where the game practically kills you off. It really goes without saying that this ruins the enjoyment and challenge of that game type.
If all of this sounds complicated to you don’t be intimidated, because it’s not. Bejeweled 2 is one of the simplest puzzlers out there, as well as one of the most addicting and enjoyable. Bejeweled 2 has all the fun and addicting qualities the original had despite the complaints, and overall is largely a better game thanks to the new graphics, bells and whistles. At $20 this game is a steal considering how many hundreds, if not thousands, of hours it can easily keep you entertained. If you are a hardcore puzzler, or just a casual player looking to kill some time then definitely check out Bejeweled 2. If you’re a fan of puzzle games in general, Bejeweled 2 is definitely something you should have in your collection.