Originally written for www.7outof10.co.uk
So, Bejwelled Blitz. There is a reasonable chance that you, like me, are already sighing deeply and wondering just what was left unsaid in the Bejeweled universe. What further gems are there left to match-three with? What can they possibly do to move on a genre that they but have become a byword for?
Anyone who has ever held a gamepad or handled a mouse before should know what to expect. Faced with a screen of coloured gems, your only reason for existing becomes one of linking three or more in a straight line, causing them to explode in shower of sparkly particle and points. It is a simple formula, but one to their credit that Bejeweled and Pop Cap have successfully riffed off of for many a year.
To give them their dues, however, Blitz does offer something different to the standard Bejweled fare. If standard Bejeweled is considered a marathon, Blitz is the sprint, offering the player 60 seconds to wrack up as high a tally as possible. There’s no deliberation here, just instinct, and what results is a particularly frantic affair as your eyes strain to see the combos lurking in a screen full of gems.
Sometimes that minute flies by and you’re left sitting there stunned, wondering just where the time went, whereas others will be met with chain after chain exploding away and sending your point counter spinning faster than you can comprehend. As with most games of its ilk, it’s as much to do with the luck of the board as it is with swift reactions and an eye for a chain.
To complement the “classic” mode, Blitz also comes armed with Twist, where instead of swapping neighbouring gems you rotate blocks of four.
Having come off the back of a mini-Hexic binge, this twist – in every sense of the word – saw Bejeweled penetrate my cynical outer layer and made me soften towards the series. The simple addition of being able to build combos by shifting vast sections of the board took the concept from one which I thought was as based on chance as anything else, and elevated it into one requiring foresight and planning.
But that’s all you get for the package: two different variations on the same game and neither lasting longer than the length of time it takes my missus to boil me an egg. The speed and desperation are a refreshing shift for a genre that is generally considered slow and ponderous, but as a full retail product it feels as though it misses the presence of the more traditional modes.
I may like an egg with soldiers every now and again, but I also enjoy a good slow baked casserole.