The point is that while you don't have to make a match every time, you want to. Or I want to anyway. Someone like my Mum, who just wants to relax and is a bit more mature and sensible about fictional reward systems which have no tangible benefits within the realm of reality, can happily ignore those bits.
There's also a selection of game modes designed to suit different playing styles even more precisely. In Zen mode, for example, there are no bombs, so you can rotate away without interruption. Blitz mode is about scoring as many points as possible within a five-minute time limit, and Challenge mode sets you specific targets like "Match eight gems in one go".
But it's Classic mode which is the most fun, and the one to opt for when you're in the mood for a good long session with real challenges. Unfortunately, the whole thing is let down by another new feature: if the counter on a bomb gem reaches zero you're forced to play a round of roulette, which could end your game altogether. The first time this happens, two of the wheel's eight sections feature bomb symbols while the rest shows gems. You click to spin the wheel and once again to stop it. If the marker stops on a bomb symbol, the bomb detonates, the grid explodes and the game is over.
The mathematical probability, of course, is that you'll survive this first round. But next time a ticker hits zero there will be more bomb sections on the wheel, and so on with each round until your chances of surviving the spin are next to none. What this means is that your final score is ultimately determined by random chance. It's not dependent on your skill in getting the bonus sequences or filling up the multiplier meter or pulling off amazing chains. You can do all that, only for an arbitrary spin to end your game. This is particularly frustrating as there's no quest-style mode in Bejeweled Twist. If it's 'game over' you have to start all over again from level one, and go through all the tedious early levels your skill level has long since surpassed.
It seems the idea is to force you to make decisions - do you keep pursuing that 9x multiplier, hoping the bomb gems will fall naturally into spaces where you can match and defuse them? Or do you take the safe option and defuse the bombs as soon as possible, even if that means making non-matching moves and letting your multiplier drop back to zero? That's an interesting game mechanic, but it doesn't make up for losing unfairly because of random chance.
It's such a shame because otherwise there is much to recommend Bejeweled Twist. It might be fundamentally similar to the previous games in many ways, but it's also different. The rotating mechanic changes the pace of the game entirely. The ability to make a move without making a match adds a significant amout of depth and strategy, as do the optional bonus challenges.
Despite the silly roulette wheel thing, it's still addictive. I've played it for hours. The other night I was sitting opposite someone and I realised instead of listening to what they were saying, I was wondering what would happen if I rotated their facial features clockwise. And yes, I've been going to sleep at night playing the game in my head. These are all signs of a good puzzler. But thanks to that daft roulette wheel, Bejeweled Twist stops just short of being great.
7 / 10