Bejeweled 3 • Page 2

A real gem. 

Zen mode, meanwhile, is the mode you literally can't lose at: the game will just keep going and going until the sun burns out, the Milky Way unravels and the universe drifts into its terminal frosty slumber.

It's zone-out gaming at its most likeable and it's been weaponised here by all manner of new age battiness - there are options to turn on binaural beats, ambient sounds, mantras and a breath modulation indicator.

All told, you can have quite the Age of Aquarius barn dance with it - as I did, until my housemate came into the kitchen unexpectedly and I had to explain why I was wheezing, Darth Vader-style, to the sound of yelping seagulls, while phrases like "I love you courageously" scrolled across my computer screen.

Will Zen mode ultimately help balance your chi? Who knows – but it's a pleasantly quirky addition regardless.

Quest mode rounds out the first four offerings, its series of 40 mini-games rendering it more of a Bejeweled tasting menu than an epic adventure. Although presumably that didn't sound so enticing when the team was naming things.

As well as presenting swifter, time-limited versions of the other game types it offers a range of sly reinventions - burying you alive in new jewels every time you make a match, say, or having you clear away a wall with explosive gems.

These are all more than strong enough to keep you playing, and could presumably have decent lives as iPhone downloads if Bjorn the unicorn ever stops bringing home the money.

Beyond the initial modes, four unlockable game types provide the designers with a bit of space for gentle experimentation. They all build on the central match-three mechanics but twist it in unexpected ways, genuinely screwing with the ways you're used to playing.

Poker's probably the standout here. It sees you matching gems strategically in order to make the best hand – zeroing in on the purples, for example, to get 4 of a kind, or piecing together pairs.

2
A muddle of awards and badges will mark your progress through the game.

With a great lounge-lizard soundtrack it's villainously moreish, even before a complication has the game randomly disallowing certain combinations of cards as the match progresses.

After all that, Butterflies sends you out to match special winged gems before they work their way off the top of the board. Diamond Mine nudges your attention to the bottom of the screen as you match jewels to dig downwards through piles of dirt, picking out golden nuggets.

Finally, Ice Storm is pure panic mode, forcing you to focus your efforts on specific parts of the playing area to defeat shards of ice as they advance upwards. The ability to create combos in just the right spot becomes the order of the day here, and the vertical match becomes the equivalent of a head-shot.

It all adds up to another quietly fearsome package: a classic game trying on a range of smart new outfits. If you've come to PopCap through Steam, Xbox Live, Facebook, or the iPhone, you might just feel the absence of the meme-age wit that has marked the company's more recent output. If you were there from the start, you'll feel right at home.

Either way, be warned: Bejeweled 3 is one-more-go gaming at its most polished.

8 /10

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About the author

Christian Donlan

Christian Donlan

Features Editor

Christian Donlan is a features editor for Eurogamer. He is the author of The Unmapped Mind, published as The Inward Empire in the US.

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