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Bejeweled 2 reminded me of everything that I'd forgotten about puzzle games. How much fun they can be, how they can take over your life, and how they are not only for handheld devices.
Tetris was and always will be the ultimate puzzle game. Its simple mechanics allowed anyone of almost any age to play it and get hopelessly addicted. For many the puzzle genre should have given up there. Why try and make a puzzle game if it's going to be inferior to the granddaddy of puzzlers?
Because, you never know! The fact is that as technology grows we are treated to bigger, better, televisions, sound systems, films, music - so why then can it not be the case that the puzzle genre can't change and improve with the times?
In my opinion it had happened once before when Bub and Bob, the dragons form Bubble Bobble, starred in a puzzle game called Puzzle Bobble which was later changed to Bust a Move when it moved from the coin-operated format to the PlayStation. It literally reversed the Tetris style and incorporated a gravity type effect that enhanced the puzzle as you shot coloured balls from a harpoon gun into other layers of coloured balls and if you got three in a row of the same colour they fell clearing the way for more. This game had me hooked through my teenage years and I honestly didn't think Bejewled 2 could come close.
Bejeweled 2 is a fun game and if you are bored and have nothing else to do it's a nice game to wind down to. It's the Gandhi of the puzzle genre. You can't get angry at it. You just chill out and play as much or as little as you want to. Certain games make you feel like you have to get to a certain place before you can stop. A save point, a level/chapter end, but not with Bejewled 2. You finish whenever you like and when you come back to play it gently asks you if you want to continue where you left off or start afresh. How lovely to have a game that offers no frustrations. Even offers you gentle (although not too subtle) hints with a simple press of the triangle button just in case frustration tries to creep in.
This was my experience of Bejeweled 2. This was not however how my girlfriend reacted to the game. I walked in to hear her scream at the screen 'What do you mean no more moves! There must be more moves.' I was shocked to find her looking truly angry. 'Why didn't you use the hint button?' I asked gently. 'I'm not a cheater!' she bellowed back.
It's the Gandhi of the puzzle genre.
This is where Bejewled 2 hits its mark. I realised if you weren't an absolute cheat like me the game could quite easily be very frustrating and that is no bad thing. It's a puzzle game. If a puzzle game doesn't have moments that are, well, puzzling, then it's really not doing its job is it!
I already knew that Bejewled was never going to be as slick and solid as Tetris. But what I realised is it doesn't need to be. Instead it offers an of the moment quick play game that your girlfriend, sister and mum will love. Me, I'll stick to my Tetris life partner - enjoyable, fun and puzzling for years to come.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: