Popcap are famous for their casual games, they’re loved by all ages and easy to just pick up and play. Bejeweled in particular is one of their more popular series, along with Peggle and Zuma. But recently Popcap has turned Bejeweled into something strange and unfamiliar. Has the gem matching game taken one step forward but two steps back? Hit the jump to find out.
The basic premise of Bejeweled Twist is the same as ever. Match 3 gems in a row to erase them from the playing field and raise your score, but as before you could swap adjacent gems to form 3 (Only if they made a row of 3 or more), now you have a little 4×4 circle to play with. The answer lies in the word “Twist”. Instead of swapping 2 gems sitting next to each other, you rotate a quartet of them. Each click of the mouse rotates it 90 degrees clockwise, and when you make a match the gems disappear and cascade. However there is one difference, you can move gems around without having to make a match.
Unfortunately for Popcap that little inclusion almost ruined the entire experience. It slows the game down, a lot. You can now set yourself up for huge combos, leaving you sitting thinking what to do next, rather than acting on instinct, frantically searching for a match. You will soon realise that the possibility of making 5 or 6 moves and nothing happening is quite likely. The hook to Bejeweled was the explosion of colour you got with every move, that has been replaced with strategic thinking. It doesn’t need to light up like Chinese new year with every move, but there are too many quiet contemplating moments in Bejeweled Twist, and if you are a fan of the other games, you won’t like them.
The game often leaves you feeling like a failure; as if you aren’t making any progress when you play. Simply because every time you lose you are thrown mercilessly back to the beginning of the game, no save points. The lack of a Quest mode hurts the game substantially, as you’ll grow tired of working your way through levels that you mastered three hours ago. You’ll want to jump straight back into the gritty difficulty you lost on, ready to kick its ass and get revenge, but you can’t.
Bejeweled Twist introduces us to a number of new gems. Bomb Gems feature a timer, each time you make a move the time gets closer to 0, if you fail to match the gem within the time limit, you get to play wheel of fortune. The game zooms into a little spinning wheel of death, land on a skull and crossbones and its Game Over for you; the more times you go into a Bomb Spin the more Skulls will appear on the wheel. Flame and Lightning Gems also make an appearance, you can get these by matching 5 or 7 Gems in a single move; these blast entire rows and columns of gems when matched. Doom Gems cannot be matched, they’re just… in the way, explode them using Flame or Lightning Gems. Finally you have the Fruit Gems, these are exceptionally hard to get, you have to increase your multiplier by 11 to use one, they remove all like-coloured Gems from the play field and increase the time on any on-screen Bomb Gems.
There are 4 game modes in Bejeweled Twist: Classic, Zen, Challenge and Blitz. Classic is regular mode, play until you lose. Zen mode is very relaxing, no time limit, explosions, or stress-inducers. Its not a good way to get good at the game, as it’s too easy, but it’s handy for adjusting to the rotation mechanic. Blitz is the complete opposite however. 5 minutes to make as many moves as you can, try and get that top score! Challenge mode is probably the most enjoyable out of the four,which presents you with puzzles and goals for specific levels. With a huge number of challenges, through different types, it’ll keep your brain ticking for quite some time.
Each time Popcap make a game the presentation is upped tenfold, and Bejeweled Twist is no different. The vibrant colours of the gems, matched with the light burst of the combo explosions will dazzle you. The between-level animations are spectacular as always, and the music and sound effects are top notch. Even if the voice that says “LEVEL COMPLETE” is a bit scary.
Bejeweled Twist is a great casual game, one of Popcap’s finest as a stand alone puzzle game, however it doesn’t have the same addictiveness or charm as the previous two games in the series. The new rotation gameplay slows it down substantially, although not ruining the game, it changes it completely. However, if you like the gameplay, and you stick with it, you’ll be playing this game for weeks, even months if you just enjoy chilling in Zen mode. Unlike Popcap’s previous games though, your addiction will never become unhealthy. You’ll wake up at 4am with cravings for Bejeweled 2 and Peggle, not Bejeweled Twist.
Bright and colourful, like all Popcaps games
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Turns Bejeweled into something its not, slow
Stong sound effects and calming music fit the puzzle game pefectly
You won't be addicted, but it has enough content to keep you going for weeks
Popcap took a step in a different direction with Twist, and I can't say that it's paid off. It's a good game, but Bejeweled 2 is better.