Bejeweled 2 (PS3/PSN)
Developer: PopCap Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Online
Genre: Puzzle Game
Release Date: 01/29/2009
PopCap Games has an extensive library of puzzle titles. Above them all in popularity and success stands Bejeweled 2. Now one of the most beloved (and ported) PC puzzle titles around comes to your Playstation 3 via PSN. Is it worth downloading if you’ve played it in the past?
We’ll delve into it. A preface however: despite millions of gamers already being aware of Bejeweled 2 this review will cover the game as if you’ve never heard of and or played the game. In this way we’ll cover it from the ground up and help out any of those seven or eight people who are completely oblivious to what this is all about.
Here we have four regular modes of play plus four “secret” unlockables. Let’s break them down.
Classic: Bejeweled, as the name alludes, is all about gem matching. We’ll get into specifics in a bit, but for now know that Classic is the “standard mode” of play. Matching gems together results in gradually filling a level-up bar at the bottom of the screen. When the bar fills up you’re moved on to the next level where the bar requires more matching effort and time to complete. The game stops when all of your options disappear and there are no more moves. This mode could potentially go on forever making it a wonderful time waster while still instilling the pride that comes with gaining the highest score.
Action: Here you will never run out of potential moves. Also points awarded for gem matching is significantly higher. The challenge is beating the clock. The level up bar at the bottom starts halfway filled and gradually depletes. If the bar goes empty the game ends. Fill the gauge and you’ll move to the next level. Each level the bar depletes faster and faster until it’s a frantic race to chain link multiple combos as fast as humanly possible. As you could imagine, this mode of play will eventually end because the pace becomes just too insane to handle unless you are a robot and/or a hobbit with magical powers.
Puzzle: One of my favorite play modes despite my ineptness at it. You’ll “travel” from star system to star system all with various themes. After picking a planet your screen pops up with gems configured in a predetermined order. It is your job to solve the puzzle by clearing all gems on the screen. There is only ONE solution. Special gems, like bombs and rocks, unique only to this mode complicate things further. Thankfully since you can always redo your steps there is no way to “lose” in the conventional sense. Without using hints, more than likely you’ll lose all sanity trying to figure out later puzzles. Or potentially your mind will break. If this happens you lose and the game is over.
Endless: If you want mindless never ending fun then here it is. You will never run out of moves. You do not have to worry about a timer. This is a leisure mode used either as a teaching tool or as a way to kill time without getting your feelings hurt.
Reaching certain milestones in the regular modes results in unlocking additional ways to play. What you need to accomplish to unlock them I won’t spoil but let’s break it down.
Twilight: A favorite unlockable of mine because it changes the whole dynamic of classic Bejeweled. Gravity switches back and forth between each move meaning gems will fall from the top and then from the bottom and then back from the top again. It’s jarring and changes your entire strategy of linking gems.
Cognito: A whole new slew of puzzles. The differences being the difficulty and using hints come at a price.
Hyper: Same as Action mode except the timer is much faster. Like four times faster. Like make you cry faster.
Finity: Now those bombs and rocks from Puzzle mode make an appearance during regular gameplay. So you’ll need to get rid of those but you’ll still only get points added for the gems. If there is an equivalent of expert mode for Bejeweled 2, this would be it.
Wow. For a game “simplistic” as this, the fact that you can squeeze eight, for the most part, enjoyable styles of play is an achievement. I spent countless hours with almost all of these proving that each mode has something unique to contribute to the entertainment value.
The only thing I wished for was some type of multiplayer mode. It’s fun to watch someone else play… for a while, but you’ll soon wish you could get in on the fun. They’ve put together so many other scenarios that it’s always been a mystery to me why competitive play does not exist. With the potential for taking it online this feels like a bigger omission.
Even without multiplayer however the list of modes is impressive, all are very well made, and I can’t think of much more they could have done.
Modes Rating: Great
The gems shine. The explosion burst of multiple gems look pretty. The warp rainbow colored light shows between stages is particularly nice. Yet nothing really amazes here. There isn’t a need for Gears of War or Final Fantasy caliber graphics, of course, because it’s a simple puzzle game. If gameplay isn’t hindered by some kind of visual glitch, ambiguity, or oversight the graphics have served their purpose. Indeed they have here.
Graphics Rating: Decent
Ah, I just love that voiceover guy. It’s the deepest slowest freakiest voice I’ve ever heard yet you look forward to any commendation he throws your way as you chain link together combos across the screen. The voice is absent mostly, so you’ll get all giddy when he speaks if you’re a weirdo and/or absurdly silly like me. So many times do I find myself in random situations mocking and repeating that voice as commentary for whatever situation I find myself. Although there aren’t too many scenarios where I can say, “WARP DRIVE READY”; but I’ll find one!
All of the “tinks” and “sheens” sound effects when the gems chain together and shift are very well done. The same also goes for the music. Well, same goes for the music that is until you hear the same song over and over and over and over and over and over… It drove me mad. A few more tracks would have been tremendous or better still, if the PS3 media bar was accessible and allowed you to listen to your own saved music while you play.
Nothing is truly bad here. We just have room for variety and a missed opportunity or two. That voice makes up for everything though!
Sound Rating: Above Average
4. Control & Gameplay:
The formula varies slightly depending on the game mode, but the objective of Bejeweled 2 is to clear differently colored gems off the screen in as flashy and large a quantity at one time as possible. This is accomplished by creating chains. To form a chain three or more same colored gems must be lined up together in any direction except diagonally. When the chain is formed those gems disappear and then randomly generated gems fall from the top pushing everything downward to fill the gap. If you strategize well you or are just plain fortunate you can cause chain reactions in which falling gems line-up as they cascade down rewarding the player with massive points. You must create a chain each turn and if there are no more moves available the game ends.
Each gem has a different shape and color, but some are especially unique. Power gems, gems that explode when matched up, are created when four are put together or when five gems create a “T” or “L” intersection. Next we have Hyper cubes. These are formed when five gems are matched all in a row. With a Hyper cube a chain is not needed in order to use it. If you switch one with any gem on screen all of that color is cleared off the board.
Odds are you have played Bejeweled 2 before in its PC incarnation. So to you your concern is how does it play with a Dual Shock 3 in hand? The answer is it works very well. Switching gems is simple. Hold down the X button to select a gem and the press the directional pad up, down, left, or right to switch it. There. In one sentence I have explained the game’s entire control scheme. Wonderful isn’t it? There really isn’t much more to it and that is why Bejeweled 2 is wonderful. It’s the simplicity. It’s the ability for anyone to pick up and play the game instinctually without explaining to them how. It’s the fact that the only reason you’re playing is for points and fun. As long as the PSN port’s controls didn’t ruin that fact, it was setup for success because the formula has always been a success. If I could find a flaw with the core gameplay mechanics I would tell you because I’m a nitpicky slightly jaded sadist. I can’t find any with Bejewled 2. I never could.
Control Rating: Unparalleled
We’ve got the previously mentioned eight different game modes to spice up the variety. However this is just icing on the gem-flavored cake. It’s a puzzle game. A good puzzle game making it infinitely replay able. The core game can essentially go on forever. The drive here is “old school” in nature, meaning you’re not playing directly against another human or computer controlled opponent. It’s just you and the score board. Can you beat your previous record? If you sign online to the leader boards you can even ask yourself can I beat the world records? That is the drive. Self betterment.
Above all it’s fun. Relaxing, rewarding fun. It’s easy to keep playing simply because it’s a great way to waste some time.
Replayability Rating: Great
Is it balanced in all gameplay aspects? Mostly. The puzzle modes provide increasingly thought provoking challenges and the action modes will test your gaming metal to the limits. Yet due to the fact in core game modes new gems are randomly generated, sometimes if you progress on or not comes down to being fortunate. If the “right gems” fall down into place you’re golden. Yet, even if you plan it out expertly, there’s a chance the stars just might not align at that moment and it’s game over. Skill plus opportunity equals win. Skill minus opportunity equals possibly getting screwed over. Does it stop the fun? No. Is it annoying at times? Yes.
For the price? At $9.99 it may be considered a tad steep considering that some may have obtained the game already on their home PCs (In some cases for free, at least temporarily…). Yet the content is there. The quality is there. It’ll be ten dollars well spent especially if you’ve never played it.
Balance Rating: Enjoyable
It’s a sequel of course. Plus it’s one of the most ported games around. It’s available on the PC (Windows, Mac OS X), Browser (Flash), PDA (Palm OS, Windows Mobile, iPhone OS), Xbox 360 (XBLA), iPod, and of course PlayStation Network. It’s a tad shameless. Plus it’s been around since 2004.
Yet no other game has pulled off as fluid an experience as this. Copy-cat blatant mediocre rip-offs pretending to be Bejeweled 2 blanket the internets looking for the unaware. Whatever can be said about how old the game is, or how ported it is, it’s still the original amongst a sea of crappy wannabes.
Originality Rating: Pretty Poor
I love Bejewled 2. It’s instant gratification. It’s something that you can play forever and still not get tired of. True, the game can get a bit redundant and so super elongated gaming sessions didn’t take place, yet I remained drawn to it over and over whenever I had time to kill.
Let’s say you DO stop for a good period. One could leave it alone for literally months, play one game of it again, and then boom… you’re addicted all over again. A similar thing happens with Tetris. Bigger blockbuster games come and go. The next Gears of Wars, the next Halo, the next Madden. They’ll be entertaining until the next sequel comes barreling through and their older incarnations become irrelevant. But guess what will never get old? Those puzzle games that have always captivated us from the beginning. Games like Tetris and Dr. Mario and Puzzle Fighter. Games like Bejeweled 2.
Addictiveness Rating: Very Good
9. Appeal Factor:
My mother in-law owns Bejeweled 2. She adores it. She’d play it all the time if it wasn’t for the fact that my father in-law won’t give it up. These two are as old as dirt.
Ok, not really old as dirt but my point is the appeal is broad. It’s the simplicity of the gameplay. This title is for everyone that knows how to pick up a controller. Little Timmy, Teenage Timmy, Mom and Grandma will all enjoy this game. Even the “die hard game fan” will love it. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t like this Bejeweled 2.
Query though. Do you already own it on a different medium? Good chance you might. If that’s the case it’s not as appealing to buy again. I mean, I have a copy on my PC, my XBLA account, and the PSN but I may just be the exception.
Or maybe not…
Appeal Factor rating: Unparalleled
What do you think about Bejeweled 2 creepy deep voiced guy?
Well I wouldn’t say “incredible” but Bejeweled 2 is a very entertaining and broadly appealing game.
Nearly every aspect has been covered but my favorite reason to own Bejeweled 2 in this incarnation is the fact that I am able to sit back and relax while playing it. Before now, it was always PC time. Now? I can lie in bed or lounge chair and play me some Jeweled comfy as bug in a rug. I’m surprised how much longer I played just because it’s relaxing now in front of my ungodly huge HDTV.
Miscellaneous Rating: Good
Sound: Above Average
Control and Gameplay: Unparalleled
Originality: Pretty Poor
Addictiveness: Very Good
Appeal Factor: Unparalleled
FINAL SCORE: GOOD GAME
Short Attention Span Summary
Puzzle goodness at its best. Bejeweled 2 is a great edition to your console download library if but only for the convenience of console play. A definite recommendation to buy especially if you own none of the game’s other incarnations.