Bejeweled 3: Xbox Live Arcade Game Review


Bejweled is a puzzle sensation that everyone has heard of, with games being able to be played across all platforms as well as practical social networking sites like FaceBook.

Bejeweled 3 is the third installment and plans to take it a step further.  Being relatively new to the series, I am going to be sure to stress every detail about this for any newcomers like myself.

PopCap has chosen to bring this highly demanded game to the Xbox 360 Arcade Marketplace, and I'm here to see if it worth the effort to do so, and if it is worth the time to you, the gamer.



-[ Brief Synopsis ]-

Bejeweled is a puzzle game that primarily works in that you match up 3 or more gems (creating more powerful versions of gems) in order to destroy them, clearing space for more gems to come down to fill up your screen and occupy the space that was made by the gems you destroyed.  By making more powerful gems through use of this matching mechanic, you can clear up more space.  A variety of game modes mean that they all have different rules to when the game is over; but this is the primary mechanic.

Match gems, create more powerful gems, activate those gems through further matching, and fulfill the objective for that specific game mode.  This is what makes Bejeweled 3.


-[ Getting Started ]-

Bejeweled 3 starts off with not much of any type of introduction movie, just saying PopCap Games and you're at the Bejeweled 3 screen that gives you a list of all the modes: Play, Help & Options, Badges, etc.  It is quite simplistic which is very good, so I decide to go to the "How to Play" option since I know a little bit about the game and have played the demo for "Bejeweled Blitz" before and some on FaceBook, but it is always good to check out all the features.

The "How to Play" shows you all the basic controls and tells you basic things, but nothing interactive.  Consulting with my good friend, Chris Carter, who is very good at Bejeweled Blitz, told me they do help you a bit when you begin to actually play.  However, I would have liked something along the lines of a "simple" and an "advanced" tutorial that shows you different strategies and tactics in order to maximize your scores and train you how to think in Bejeweled (Something like Pokémon Puzzle League for the Nintendo 64), but I believe that may come as I continue to delve into the game.

As I click on "     " I see that there are four modes available to play: Classic Mode, Lightning Mode, Quest Mode, and Zen Mode.  In addition to these four modes there are four additional modes that are locked and require you to reach specific requirements in each of the four starting modes in order to make them playable.  I already thought this was good in order to force people to try out every single mode and could add more replay valuable from having a variety, but that all depends on how diverse and unique each game mode is
from each other.'


-[ Game Play ]-

Getting started in Classic Mode, I begin to switch around gems and start to clear lines.  As I'm clearing them, I can easily say that the game does its best to describe to you exactly what you did when you create a gem.  Such as matching four gems of the same type makes a "Flame Gem" which detonates all the gems that surrounded it, or the "Star Gem" (Which used to be known as "Lightning Gem" in Bejeweled 1, 2, and Twist) which is made when grouping 5 gems of the same type together in a "L" or a "T" shape and destroys a row and a column in a cross.
As I began to match further, I began to make all type of destructive gems like the "Hyper Gem" which comes from matching 5 gems in a row or a column (Destroys all gem types that you match with it), or the "Super Nova Gem" which is made by matching 6 gems in the same row or column (Destroys three rows and three columns).  Or the almighty "Annihilator Cube" which comes from matching two Hyper Gems together, which destroys every single gem on the entire screen, insanity.

Something else that blows my mind is the fact that if you have a Flame Gem and it explodes within the radius of another Flame Gem, it will detonate that Flame Gem and you'll get the efforts of both; same if another Gem destroys another one; the combos can be insane and your score and be racked up pretty quickly, I find this to be an addictive mechanic that keeps people amazed at how much chaos can be happening on screen at any single time.

Cascading is also something I found to be really cool, in the fact that if you destroy rows and columns and the Gems that fall to replace the ones you have just obliterated land together and form another match, you get an additional bonus and it causes even more destruction.  Though, with all this insanity, something just still does not stick right with me about the game play.

Sometimes things feel a bit too random.  What I mean by this is that unlike Pokémon Puzzle League, Tetris, or many other types of puzzle games, you do not actually have the ability to freely manipulate the board.  You are only allowed to switch Gems if you are able to make a match (Unlike Bejeweled Twist where this no longer applies) meaning that you are at the mercy of the computer and must do major thinking with the limitations they place upon you in order to place Gems where you want them to be.  However, this adds a whole new element that resembles chess where something you did 50 moves ago may very well effect whether you are able to win or lose, so each move has to be thought out carefully; yet it still cannot shake the feeling that it is still a bit random, but this in no ways hurt this game.

Cascading, setting off Gems, and making matches and figuring out where and when to switch are the main focuses and do a good job with giving Bejeweled its own unique experience aside from other puzzle games.


-[ Game Modes ]-

Bejeweled 3 features 8 modes in total, 4 of which you start with and 4 which are unlockable that have different objectives that make the games feel completely different based upon which mode you are playing.  I will tell you all about the four starting modes and my very favorite unlockable mode.

Classic Mode:  Classic Mode is basically an endless mode which features the classic rules of Bejeweled.  You continue to make matches and fulfill the quota of Gems cleared in order to progress the bar at the bottom of the screen and head to the next level.  You are given the Game Over once you run out of moves you can do (Which means you can no longer make any matches on the board). 

This mode is pretty fun, but has you stressing about causing massive amounts of destruction by matching Gems in order to make sure you get as many new Gems as possible.  I found that it also helps (Per advice by given from my friend, Chris Carter) if you start to clear out the bottom rows of Gems before you start trying to head towards the top.  Also, making Star Gems, Hyper Gems, Super Nova Gems, and Annihilator Gems are a must to give yourself the best chance of continuing.  
This shows Bejeweled in its classic element and is the best for beginners to get a good grip of what the game is and what it is all about.

Lightning Mode:  This mode features a line at the top with the time "1:00" on it that you have attempt to get the most score you can in that given time, as well as get as many "Time Gems" as you can in order to give yourself extra time once the bar runs down to zero.  You also have the "Last Hurrah" when the game is over, setting off the powers of all Special Gems you have created on screen in order to give the player a last chance to get additional points added to their score.  Not to mention I like the nice effects here when time runs out.

This mode is pretty good, and it can be either long or short depending on how good the player is; grabbing Time Gems becomes essentially in holding out as long as you possible can.  Also, "Blazing Speed" (Gained by making matches very quickly and in rapid succession) allows any match the player makes to explode as if it were a Flame Gem, which is great in helping to grab time Gems even quicker; this whole mode is about speed.

The only thing I really hate is the fact that sometimes Time Gems can be hard to get to because of the whole randomness of where you can match based upon where things fall; so I feel you have to really keep your eyes open.

Quest Mode:  Quest Mode gives you specific objectives to beat, one at a time in order to form things on a Relic that is revealed once you completely so many ones.  Once that specific Relic is unlocked you progress to the next one.

This really does feel like a Quest, you have to complete them in order to progress towards the very next Relic.  These also features some of the additional modes you will unlock later by meeting the specific requirements in the other modes, so I will not go too far into it.  Fact is, it is a fun objective based way to play that keeps you focused on fulfilling your mission.

Zen Mode:  Zen Mode is very much like Classic Mode (Though, when you complete a level and it does the little vortex thing, I do like its effect a lot better) yet you do not have to worry about failing and they provide ambient sounds and even an option to help you control your breathing and relax.

It is crazy that I would actually like to use this mode if I am stressed.  Placing it on "waterfall" I found myself playing, having a good time and really getting into a relaxed state.  I was able to make matches and not worry about failing and just enjoy the game and everything that it had to offer.  This was a very brilliant idea to add and can be an easy way to relieve stress.  I have never seen something like this before in a game but it is a welcome addition.

Ice Storm Mode:  Ice Storm Mode is an unlockable mode where you have to clear rows and columns in order to keep back waves of water from going up columns and eventually freezing the entire screen and ending the game.  You are supplied Hyper Cubes at random and are in a constant rush to keep yourself from freezing.

Ice Storm Mode is the most fun I have had in a puzzle game in a very long while.  I am in a constant rush to clear things as well as locate matches within the area that needs the most attention.  This is the mode that shows just how good you are at the game; you rely on experience and skill and the more destructive the Gem, the better.  A match can be short or long depending on the skill.  My friend, Chris Carter is, as I type this, ranked #7 in the world on the Bejeweled 3 leaderboards.

However, I do really hate that they failed to integrate some kind of online multiplayer, but it does well with an online leaderboard and a plethora of offline game modes.


-[ The Verdict ]-

Bejeweled 3 is a game that is very well made and adapted to the Xbox 360 from PC, even my friend Chris said he likes it better on 360.  It is a game that has a simple concept but can be hard to actually master and recognize what is all possible without experience and time placed into the puzzle game and requires advance thinking skills in order to be consistently successful.

The music and effects are pretty good, I am also a fan of the various backgrounds they use for stages and feel it adds personality to the game.  

I recommend this game for anyone who is a fan of Bejeweled or puzzle games and want something to occupy their time and give a good puzzle based experience.  Even though it lacks an online multiplayer and it can feel a bit random, it is worth the money and offers hours of replay value; especially if you are competing against your friends' spot on the leaderboards.

I hope you have enjoyed this review for "Bejeweled 3" by PopCap for the Xbox 360 console.

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