Review By: Jared Black
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Other than Tetris, no franchise has made a greater impact on the puzzle genre than Bejeweled. Now over 10 years old, the franchise has appeared on basically every modern platform in existence, and clones have popped up everywhere as well. Between the real thing and its numerous clones everyone reading this has access to the game in some form, yet Bejeweled 3 on Nintendo DS earns its keep thanks to a large variety of game modes and ever-addictive gameplay.
Bejeweled 3 features eight different game modes, an impressive four of which are new to this iteration. The first four modes are available right away, while the latter four are “secret” but very easily unlocked (skip the bullet points if you don’t want to be spoiled anyway). They include:
- Classic – The standard Bejeweled experience, with the goal simply being to continue to match up three or more gems at once. The game ends when there are no more possible moves. My strategy? Focus on making matches at the top of the screen, keep one at the bottom in reserve for emergencies.
- Zen – Never-ending Bejeweled, the game continually ensures that there’s at least one possilbe match to be made at all times. Zen is designed to be a soothing experience, with pleasing music and various nature sounds.
- Lightning – A timed game where the goal is to simply continue playing as long as possible, matching up special time gems to add more time. This is very similar to Bejeweled Blitz, available for free on Facebook.
- Quest – 40 different quests, growing harder as later quests are unlocked. There’s a good amount of variety in these , incorporating the other game modes with tasks like matching a number of gems before ice reaches the top of the screen or uncovering fossil fragments hidden behind the playing field. My favorite quests are the balance ones, where you need to match red and blue gems while keeping the scales in balance. Match too many of either color at once and the scales will tip.
- Butterflies – This may be my favorite mode. Butterflies appear at the bottom of the playing field (replacing regular gems), advancing up one space with each move, and they need to be matched with other gems before they’re eaten by the spider at the top. As more and more butterflies appear keeping them all from reaching the top can become tricky, and often compromises must be made to keep the butterflies in check (ex: matching three gems below several butterflies versus taking a better match at the top of the field).
- Diamond Mine – This is another favorite mode of mine, with the goal simply being to continue digging (by matching gems at the bottom of the screen) until time runs out, unearthing different artifacts along the way. Time is added as all artifacts hidden on the screen are uncovered. This mode allows for very aggressive gameplay, yet strategic in the since that only matching gems at the bottom of the screen will actually dig further into the ground. It also throws a large number of Hypercubes into the mix, resulting in some fairly spectacular explosions.
- Ice Storm – Ice columns rise towards the top of the screen, which must be stopped by matching gems either horizontally (slightly knocking down several columns at once) or vertically (greatly knocking down that column).
- Poker – Gems must be matched to achieve good hands, with each match translating into a playing card. For example, matching green gems produces one green card, match five sets of green gems at once would then earn a Flush for 50,000 points. Matching with special kinds of gems produces additional points.
There are eight different gems in the game overall. Three of the gems only appear in certain modes, including the Time gem in Lightning mode, the Bomb gem in Time Bomb quests (must be matched before they explode), and the Butterfly gem in Butterflies mode. The other five gems are found in all modes, including the Normal gem, and the Flame gem formed when four gems of a kind are matched which explodes when it’s matched (destroying surrounding gems). Star gems are formed when two intersecting matches are made in one move, and when they’re matched they destroy all horizontal and vertical gems on the same plane. Hypercubes are formed by matching five gems at once, and when swapped with another gem destroy every gem of the same color as the one switched with it. Finally, Supernova gems appear when six gems of the same color are matched, destroying not only its row and column, but adjacent rows and columns as well.
Since the visuals in general are pretty simplistic they’re comparable on the Nintendo DS to other versions, although this version of Bejeweled 3 naturally suffers a bit compared to the PC with gems that aren’t quite as sharp. Still, explosions are vibrant and appealing. The game features a fantasy motif, with generic background art you’d expect to see on a pre-teen fantasy novel cover.
The music follows the same generic fantasy theme, often sounding like something you’d hear in an early-90’s Genesis or PC RPG. In the Zen and Butterflies modes it’s more subdued and pleasant, with the sounds of seagulls and other pleasantries in Zen. In modes such as Diamond Mine however, the music takes on an almost midieval militaristic feel to it, alluding to the clanking of armor with a deliberate and marching beat. The announcer’s deep voice though sounds a little out of place at first, making me wonder what dark lord I was actually harvesting the souls of gems for (I could almost visualize the devil himself with his hands clasped in steeple-like fashion as the announcer shouted “GOOD”), although it too blends into the overall experience eventually.
For puzzle fans, there may not be a better portable value than Bejeweled 3 on Nintendo DS. With eight different modes, most requiring different strategies and techniques, there’s a lot of replay value to be found here. It’s hard to get too excited about yet another Bejeweled game, especially with free versions readily available, but there’s a lot of gameplay packed into this game card.
Posted: 2012-02-18 19:31:42 PST