I almost feel bad writing a review about this one. See, this was a quasi-"Bowling Ball Named Homer." I hadn't bought my wife enough stocking stuffers this year and I know how much she loves Bejeweled games. Seriously, we own every one. So I figured buying Bejeweled 3, the latest in the franchise, would be a good way to make it up to her. The fact that I wanted to play it too never entered into the equation at all. Nope. Not at all.
Okay, so I admit it, I wanted to check this one out too. I mean, they've created four different iterations of this game over the past several years. After Twist and Blitz, I was kind of wondering what they could do to the hallowed Bejeweled game to make it different.
As it turns out, quite a bit. The geniuses at PopCap Games have done it again, revamping the venerable "match three gems to make them disappear" game and adding some fresh twists to it.
That phrasing is a bit of an intentional nod to the previous incarnation, because PopCap took a lot of stuff from the previous games and included it in this one. Hypercubes, lightning gems, supernova gems, they're all here. Well, all of them except my beloved Fruit Gems from Twist, but beggars can't be choosers.
Also a pleasant surprise were the myriad new styles. You have "Classic" and "Zen" (which I guess is supposed to be easier and relaxing). But then they also added "Lightning" (a new version of Blitz where you gain extra seconds for your next rounds), "Poker" (you put together a hand by carefully matching the gems. It's a lot more fun and difficult than it sounds), "Butterflies" (some of the gems are butterflies that fly up the board to where a spider waits), "Ice Storm" (where ice slowly creeps up the board and you clear it by making matches), "Diamond Mine" (you excavate gold and artifacts by . . . well, you get the idea), and last but not least, "Quest."
Quest Mode was a great surprise. Not only do you have to play versions of the other games with very specific goals, there are also about half a dozen other puzzles you have to solve. For example, in "Balance," you have to match a certain number of red and blue gems, but for every gem you eliminate, they get dumped onto opposite sides of a scale. If the red or blue side gets too heavy, the scale will basically tip and the game ends.
I was pleasantly surprised by all of the changes and I know I'll be playing this one for a while. If I can get the computer away from my wife, that is. After all, it is her game.