Support Andy, click to buy via us...
Available on just about every platform imaginable, Bejeweled is arguably the first in a long line of gem swapping games that just about every game player has tried at some point in their lives. Available for the grand sum of GBP 5.95 from Popcap's website, this represents good value for money - but with multiple other variants about, is it really worthwhile investing in what is now a rather dated game?
In case you didn't know, the game involves an 8 x 8 grid of different gems which you manipulate by swapping pairs around with the goal of getting a row or column of 3 or more matching jewels. On achieving this, the matching gems are removed from the board, causing new ones to drop in from above as the existing ones drop down to take up the space generated.
Each matching sequence earns you some points, which multiply up if you can manage to chain more than one together. Achieve enough points and you'll ‘level up', getting another grid, and so on. The game ends when you cannot make any further matching swaps.
Two game modes are available: ‘Normal' and ‘Time Trial' with the gameplay being essentially the same, except that in time trial you need to achieve the points target before a timer counts down. Each matching sequence increases the progress bar, while the timer gradually reduces the same bar. Time Trial is pretty tricky to play for any length of time because after a few levels you will find the progress bar going down faster than you can increase it, with only the occasional fluky multiple match giving you a bit of breathing space.
I can certainly see the appeal for Bejeweled on some of the alternative platforms
The general randomness of the game made it rather a bore for me. While there is certainly some strategy involved in making sure you don't mess up potential matches, and spotting paths to matching more than 3 gems, there wasn't really enough to keep me entertained. And in Time Trial mode you haven't really got the time to think about things too deeply anyway.
Bejeweled is a very simple and mildly addictive concept, but one that I can't see is really worth spending the money on for the PC. There are numerous free variations on the theme available if you really want the odd puzzle-fest. I can certainly see the appeal for Bejeweled on some of the alternative platforms, such as iPods and mobile phones since you're much more likely to find yourself in a dull moment where this would pass the time well.
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: