Though Bejeweled has been all the rage lately thanks to PopCap’s Blitz phenomenon, it’s actually been over five years since the last proper release. And had Blitz or Twist never existed, this year’s iteration would undeniably carry more weight. But those two evolutions do exist, and as such Bejeweled 3’s debut doesn’t quit feel like the event that it should be.
The core of Bejeweled 3 is made up of four modes: Classic, Zen, Lightning, and Quest. Classic is good old Bejeweled as you know and love it, yet all modes have gained the improvements of Bejeweled Blitz, most importantly the ability to make matches while other gems are still cascading. Lightning mode is essentially a souped up version of Blitz, though players can substantially extend the game beyond the initial minute by collecting bonus time and quickly making consecutive matches.
Zen mode is perhaps the most intriguing of all the modes. It’s basically Endless mode crossed with a Yoga class; Bejewelers have the option to enable ambient sounds or even turn on a breathing control visualizer. Sadly, I can’t sustain my breaths for as long as it expects me to and I don’t even smoke. Quest mode is where the bulk of the new content comes into play, as it’s a collection of a dozen Bejeweled variations. These include Poker and Butterflies, with the latter being a particularly unique spin on the classic match-three gameplay.
The problem is, the overall presentation feels immediately obsolete. The “flashy new HD graphics” are only new if you haven’t already played Blitz, and the lack of Facebook connectivity feels like a step backward. Needless to say, there’s a lot of game here waiting to be uncovered and mastered, and for a mere $20 it’s hard not to recommend. I was just hoping for something a little…more.