Bejeweled 3: Bejewelier

By John Walker on November 1st, 2010 at 2:09 pm.

Encouraging gambling! The end is nigh!

I’ve just done some made up maths, and by my calculations every single human being on Earth has bought Bejeweled at least twice, even though Zoo Keeper is way better. It’s by far the most widely known match-3 game, and has made PopCap richer than God. Then came the rather improved Bejeweled 2. And next the wildly missing the point Bejewled Twist. Today they’ve announced Bejeweled 3, which they describe as “the first true sequel to [the] beloved flagship franchise in more than six years.” But what are those three matching gems up to now? And might they have made the improvement that could make me take it more seriously?

“Triple the fun” they say. I don’t think I could do any justice to the press release’s hyperbole other than to just print it, so enjoy this:

“Beyond stunning, high-definition graphics and mellifluous music and sound effects, Bejeweled 3 is packed with completely new game experiences in addition to updated and expanded re-imaginings of the four original game modes from Bejeweled 2. Four all-new secret games including Ice Storm and Poker offer surprising new interpretations of the Bejeweled theme, while Quest mode features eleven mini-games — clever hybrids of Bejeweled game-play with other classic game mechanics — comprising 40 total quests.”

(While the screenshots look identical, it seems the improved graphics are in the special effects, in the video below. So what are those new features that mean we’re going to want to pay for it all over again?

- Classic: Play the most popular puzzle game of the century, with powerful new gems and new ultra-smooth gameplay
- Quest: Journey through 40 magical puzzles in this multifaceted Bejeweled challenge!
- Zen: Personalize your experience with ambient sounds and binaural beats — a revolutionary new way to relax!
- Lightning: Charge up with a heart-pounding, beat-the-clock bout of gem-blasting fun!
- Secret Games: Unlock 4 all-new games including Butterflies and Ice Storm
- Badges: Earn up to 65 badges to prove your skills
- High-definition graphics and high-fidelity audio: Bejeweled is now more dazzling than ever before!
- Ultra-smooth gameplay: Make multiple matches while new gems fall into place

That last point is absolutely essential, if you genuinely care about match-3 games. It’s the reason I’ve always criticised the Bejeweled series as falling short of others, especially the DS’s exquisite Zoo Keeper. To be able to start making other matches while the board is still cascading is critical to playing match-3 at anything like an interesting pace. Sitting around waiting for other parts of the board to change makes for a stilted and limited game. So this tweak means it could be a game in which you can seriously challenge yourself. It means I go from rolling my eyes at seeing the series milked once more, to looking forward to playing.

I am surprised that there’s not been an attempt to introduce a Puzzle Quest-like narrative version of the game. Think Bookworm Adventures to Bookworm. It seems like a missed opportunity to not take it in an RPG direction, alongside the classic mode. PopCap’s fantastic sense of humour and skill with character would have been well applied.

But we’ve got a Quest mode, which will presumably have something of that flavour in there, although I expect with a far more (and appropriately more) casual approach.

Bejeweled games are still selling at a rate of one copy every 4.3 seconds, with – they say – half a billion people having had a go. That’s one in twelve people on Earth. So clearly people want more. And more they’ll get. And with the newly smoothed play, I’ll be one of them. The game’s out on the 7th December.

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35 Comments »

  1. WiPa says:

    My fiancee will enjoy this information.

  2. mandrill says:

    So, if everyone on Earth has bought it at least twice, how come only one in twelve people have played it?

  3. Dave says:

    As I found out when they briefly gave out Bejeweled 2 for free, I can’t play it anymore… it’s Puzzle Quest or nothing.

  4. Urthman says:

    The stones in 7 Wonders: the Treasures of Seven make the most delightful satisfying clicky-clack noise, which makes that game much better than Bejeweled.

    I am really, really not going to open 7 Wonders now. I hope.

  5. ulix says:

    My favorite Match-3 game by far is Panel de Pon/TetrisAttack/Puzzle League (however you want to call it). And for the exact same reason that John disliked Bejeweled: you can change the gems while others are falling down. And mor importantly, you can rearrange gems without them creating a match, thus opening up the possibilty to build insane combos.

  6. TheApologist says:

    The fact that the slightly rubbish Bejewelled has sold 8 bajillion copies and hardly anyone has heard of Zoo Keeper proves we live in a universe devoid of justice.

    Go buy zoo keeper!

  7. KilgoreTrout XL says:

    I will almost certainly buy this when the iPhone version releases, which I suppose is kind of sad.

    Chuzzle is WAYYYYY better though! True story.

    • Sam C. says:

      I guess I should know better, but the example allowed XHTML code below the comment box doesn’t have a closing slash. At least, that’s what I’m going to blame that on.

    • Arathain says:

      I too have fallen trap of that tag, as have many on the forum. My favourite was when someone forgot to close their italics tag, and every subsequent comment was in italics.

      In further solidarity, Clash of Heroes is utterly fantastic. Any puzzle-RPG fan owes it to themselves to get it, as doe everyone else.

  8. bookwormat says:

    I have lost interest in these little casual and puzzle games for Desktop machines, because they seem to be so much more useful on mobile computers. I play Games like Drop 7, Angry Birds, Everlands, or one of these Popcap clones (still waiting for Popcap t orelease something for Android, grr) when I’m listen to a podcast/music, or while I’m in bed, on a bus etc.

    Btw, I wish Arcen Games would make Tidalis for Android.

    Oh, and I wish RPS would start covering Android as a platform for PC games. With the current growth, it is going to be the most widespread PC platform in the not so distant future anyway. (Well, this depends on what the word PC means for you I guess.)

  9. cjlr says:

    I’ve found the game itself to be nothing special (TETRIS TILL THE DAY I DIE) but any press release which contains words like mellifluous and binaural wins some serious cred.

  10. Lewie Procter says:

    Confirmed to support up to 1920×1200 too.

    I welcome this new dawn of proper resolution Popcap games.

  11. Butler` says:

    I’ve just done some made up maths, and by my calculations every single human being on Earth has bought Bejeweled at least twice, even though Zoo Keeper is way better. It’s by far the most widely known match-3 game, and has made PopCap richer than God

    That could have been written by Jeremy Clarkson.

    Thats you, Walker, the Clarkson of gaming.

  12. Delusibeta says:

    PS: Apparently Bejeweled 2 is going free again. This time, 10,000 copies thanks to PC Gamer.

    http://savygamer.co.uk/2010/11/01/bejeweled-2-pcmac-free-2/

  13. Oozo says:

    I agree, “Bejeweled” was a bit meh (so far), “Zoo Keeper” is way better – but the best laugh out of me got so “Beghouled”, as I was happy to found out after the Halloween Steam sale.

  14. Lambchops says:

    I picked up Bejeweled 2 for free. like most matching based games I’ve played it a little bit on and off for a while but unlike the truly great ones it has failed to hook me into compulsion. It lacks the depth of a Tidalis, the naff idiocy and RPG elements of a Puzzle Quest or the incredibly good puzzle mode of a Lumines.

    To be honest it sounds like they are making only token efforts towards these; which is a bit of a shame as with Popcaps general ability to pull of charm they could have fashioned a pretty entertaining adventure mode I’m sure. As for making matches during a cascade I don’t think that would quite add enough depth to keep me coming back for more.

    In short; I’m still waiting for a sale of Puzzle Quest 2.

  15. dalziel86 says:

    Shouldn’t Bejeweled 3 be ‘Bejeweled With A Vengeance’?

  16. Scandalon says:

    B3jeweled, surely?

  17. Ta0zenX says:

    Zen Mode should be cool

  18. K says:

    Someone explain to me why this game is fun for more than 10 seconds. I find it unfathomably boring.

  19. MonkeyMonster says:

    Return to Bejeweled, Return of the Bejeweled, BejeweIIIed… as man options as people that have played the original based on John’s maths I’m sure.

  20. Merus says:

    So have they fixed the fact that success and the scoring system is entirely determined by luck, because cascades are the dominant way to earn high scores and clear the board and they almost always happen by accident? No?

    This is the one thing Bejewelled Twist fixed, by the way.

  21. John Peat says:

    I’m calling “emperors new clothes” on Popcap here – they’ve gone from “masters of the just-one-more-go game” to “masters of repackaging the same shit and charging £15 for it!!!”

    There’s less ‘new’ in BJ3 than in the average EA annual sport refresh…

    Overcharging for a basic puzzle game isn’t new to Popcap tho – on no – when Zuma was new it was £25 (no really!!) but in this case they really are adding almost nothing (not even a change of graphical style from “German early 90s puzzle and soundtrack”) and asking a chunk of change!?

    Worst of all is that ‘No More Moves’ is still a random ‘game over – fuck you”. Given that the free/cheap-as-chips Android/iPhone clones have mostly seen that is a bad thing, I’m amazing £o£Ca£ haven’t bothered.

    Come to think about it tho, some of those cheap iOS/Android match3 games are more original than this anyway – Jewellust’s use of pieces to unlock puzzles against a time is one such example.

    Also – Tidalis, get that LONG before this tired turkey…

  22. TJF588 says:

    That last point is absolutely essential, if you genuinely care about match-3 games. It’s the reason I’ve always criticised the Bejeweled series as falling short of others, especially the DS’s exquisite Zoo Keeper. To be able to start making other matches while the board is still cascading is critical to playing match-3 at anything like an interesting pace. Sitting around waiting for other parts of the board to change makes for a stilted and limited game.

    And this is why I prefer Bejeweled Blitz. When I finally tried Bejeweled 2, it felt weird. Played a good session of B3, but I’m not sure just when all it allows you to keep playing during a cascade; then again, I may just be wanting to make matches among the cascading pieces.

    And that Flash Zoo Keeper posted earlier; I could do better without it. Only interesting thing is that wildcard piece.

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