Friday, March 22, 2013

Bejeweled Blitz

Addictive mobile goodness!

I've decided to change tack a bit today and go with a mobile gem (pardon the pun). I thought I should write about something that less hardcore gamers are likely to have played and enjoy. I've gotten a lot of "I had no idea what you were talking about but I really enjoyed your writing" responses from friends and family with regard to my reviews. Hopefully a few more people have played Bejeweled Blitz than beat Dead Space 3.

Bejeweled Blitz is a relatively new version of PopCap's breakout hit Bejeweled and its sequels, Bejewewled 2 and 3. If you aren't familiar with Bejeweled, it's a game where you match gems of similar color in order to score points. There is an eight-by-eight grid of gems. You can match strings of three, four, or five gems, which give increasing rewards as you up the count. If you match three gems, they disappear and your score rises as more gems fall in to replace them. If you match four gems, a gem of the same color is created that, when matched later, explodes and destroys a 3x3 patch of gems. If you are lucky enough to match five gems of the same color, a gem will be created that takes out an entire row and column going out from the gem when matched. 

looks like tetris

Bejeweled Blitz definitely pays homage to the greatest of all grid games, that Russian classic Tetris. However, Blitz adds several levels of depth when compared to Tetris' perfect simplicity. For one thing, there are purchasable power-ups that can help you along the way. You can buy the power-ups using money you've won while playing the game itself, in a slot machine that you get a free play on each day, or by buying extra tokens and winning more in-game money in the slot machine. With the tokens, you can buy:
  • Mystery Gem - Start the game with a random gem
  • Detonator - Detonates all special gems once per game
  • Scrambler - Scrambles all gems on the board twice per game
  • +5 Seconds - Adds five seconds to the end of the game
  • x2 Multiplier - Start the game with a x2 multiplier gem

There are also REALLY expensive power-ups that don't require much skill. They just wipe out large portions of gems at the end of the game. The Phoenix Prism (above) is the most expensive and most powerful, but it feels a bit unfair to use it. For 75,000 coins, you're essentially buying around a quarter million points. I usually save my coins for the smaller power-ups that I can control unless I've recently hit a huge jackpot on the slot machine. In that case, I'll occasionally blow way too much cash on one of the overpowered "cheater" attacks. 

why is it so fun?

Blitz is a change from its predecessors in that the game sessions only last one minute instead of three, thus the name and its implied time rush. It boasts Facebook compatibility so you can compare scores with friends. Don't worry, you can turn off the app's ability to post on your wall. I'm a bit of a Facebook freak when it comes to limiting the content of my posts. I heard dozens of social media horror stories when I was working on my master's in communication and they scared me to the point I don't put anything up there besides family photos and occasional concert or sporting event attendance pics. 

The previous games were hectic, but this one is downright anxiety-inducing. I still find myself freezing up when I can't find a match and I've been playing this game for close to a year. It's got that perfect mix of replay-ability and simplicity that make for a best-selling puzzle game. Add to that the quick, one-minute time limit and you can literally squeeze a quick game in anywhere. If you haven't tried any of the Bejeweled games, I highly recommend you give one a look. Blitz is the fastest and most helter skelter by far, so be warned. You should also be aware that it is highly addictive. If you're a fan of puzzle games, or just want to try something other than Angry Birds on your mobile device, give this one a look. It's free and it's fun!

the math

Objective Score: 8/10

Bonuses: +1 for its simplistic yet addictive design.

Penalties: -1 for making me feel like an idiot when staring blankly at the screen, unable to see the next set of matching gems even though they're right in front of me!

Nerd Coefficient: 8/10. Well worth your time and attention.