There can’t be many people who don’t already know about the ubiquitous Bejeweled 2. The team at PopCap have been so multi-faceted with their approach to publishing that it is difficult to think of a platform that hasn’t seen a version of Bejeweled. There is even a free add-on for World of Warcraft that allows you to play inside the game.
The premise is simple, a grid of coloured gems which can be swapped with each other on the horizontal or vertical axis. The aim is to make a line of three or more gems of the same colour, at which point those gems disappear, all the ones above drop down to fill their place and more are added at the top (or bottom if you’re playing in the unlockable Twilight mode). Match a line of four gems and you get an explosive gem which, when swapped into a matching line, explodes and clears all adjacent squares. Match five in a row and you get a hyper cube which, when swapped with another gem eliminates all gems of that colour from the board.
Initially you start with four game types: Classic, Action, Puzzle and Endless. Other game types are unlockable upon completion of certain milestones but essentially they are all the same with slight variations such as gems filling from either the top or bottom of the grid. Classic, Action and Endless are the same game with a game over when no moves can be made, a timer to beat or a never ending “reshuffle” mechanic to ensure that the game continues endlessly. Puzzle mode is slightly different in that you start with an incomplete grid and must swap gems to completely clear it. There is usually only one way to swap the gems out in the correct order and it gets quite tricky in later levels.
That is, basically, all there is to it. The game runs at 1080p, has nice sci-fi styled background images that you never really pay much attention to and some repetitive but catchy background music that ends up stuck in your head all day. It sounds pretty simple and in many ways it is. There is no point in commenting on the graphics or sound mixing although both are perfectly acceptable. There is no multiplayer to speak of and I don’t think anybody will buy this game for the twelve trophies it awards.
So just what is the appeal of this game? It is simple to drop into and play, you don’t need to learn any controls and it will grip you. There is a common joke about PopCap being peddlers of “digital crack” because their games are so addictive and Bejeweled 2 is no exception. If you like puzzlers like Tetris, Columns and 7 Wonders you will love this game but then, you probably already have a version of it on another platform.
The stumbling block for this title may be the price. On the PlayStation Store it costs £6.29 which is, ordinarily, a perfectly acceptable price for a game which could quite easily give you many hours of enjoyment. There are, however, many limited free versions or versions on other platforms that are much cheaper so is it really worth paying that much for the opportunity to play the game on your PS3? It seems to me that the biggest competition for Bejeweled 2 on the PSN might be Bejeweled 2 on every other platform. With the title being almost ubiquitous there may not be enough people left who don’t already own it somewhere else.
Bejeweled 2 is a well presented, compelling little puzzle game with simple mechanics which could lead to hours of enjoyment. There is nothing in the game to criticise and if you’re a fan of the genre there are probably no better examples. If this had been a £3.99 game then I would have absolutely no hesitation in recommending it but at £6.29 it begins to look a little overpriced compared with versions of the same title on other platforms. The one possible advantage of owning the game on the PlayStation 3 is that it fully supports Remote Play, linking with your PSP to provide the addictive puzzling experience anywhere you can get a WiFi connection.
Ultimately you know what you’re getting with Bejeweled 2 and there are no surprises here. The presentation is spruced up a bit for HD but it is the same game that you can find all over the internet and on many other platforms. It is so compelling though and that “digital crack” joke is funny because it is so true. PopCap are masters at the “just one more go” genre and I for one look forward to more of their titles making it to the PSN.