PopCap is famous for creating highly addictive casual games and one of the most popular in its library is Bejeweled. Chances are you’ve played this game even if you didn’t know it by its name. You know that “match three or more colors by swapping gems” archetype that you’ve seen a billion times on the computer, iPhone and pretty much any other device capable of playing games? Yeah that’s Bejeweled or at least a clone of it.
Blitz brings some modern advances to the table such as multipliers, lightning and fire gems that appear when you match four, which can blow up entire rows or the surrounding gems and finally hypercubes and supernova that show up if you match five and can cause a massive restructuring of the board.
There is also a Twist mode introduced in addition to the Classic mode where instead of swapping two gems, you rotate four of them to try to match the colors. It’s nothing revolutionary but it’s a nice twist (no pun intended) on the classic gameplay.
There are a few ways to play this game. You can play either of the two game modes solo or you can battle head to head with another player locally or over Xbox Live. There’s also a Party mode over Xbox Live that can hold 16 players. I only managed to find rooms with one other person in it however so I could not test this mode properly but from what I gather, it’s simply a solo mode that compares your scores in real time to the other party members. However, that means absolutely nothing if you’re not playing at the same time as your friends, making this feature kind of pointless.
The controls are fantastic and it’s one of the best interfaces I’ve used for these types of games. You use each of the four face buttons to quickly swap a gem in any direction. This allows you to navigate the board at a very quick pace and easily swap gems with a single button press rather than having to first select a gem and then the gem you want to swap with, which is how most of these games usually function. This quickness is of utmost importance in Bejeweled as one minute is all you have to get as many points as possible.
As expected for games like this, there is a standard leaderboard and something called friendscore, which is simply a cumulative high score between everyone on your friends list. It seems the sole purpose for its existence is to get an achievement for attaining one million friendscore. Honestly, it comes off to me like a very cheap and transparent attempt to get us to convince our friends to buy this game.
Bejeweled Blitz Live is fun and there’s definitely a place for it in the XBLA, no doubt about it. The gameplay truly is timeless and it’s still as addicting as ever but 800MSP ($10) is way overpriced for a game we’ve seen a billion times on every platform imaginable. We’ve seen successful revivals of classic games for a $10 price tag before (Pac-Man Championship Edition DX for example) but those usually justified the price tag by drastically changing up the tried and true formula and offering tons of new content. That’s not what we have here with Bejeweled Blitz Live. If you absolutely love Bejeweled and you must have it on your Xbox 360 then this is a no-brainer. For everyone else though, you can find cheaper alternatives basically anywhere else.
The game has great controls and simple gameplay, which makes it quite addicting. But with only two real game modes, this one is way overpriced. Plus, Party mode and Friendscore are rather pointless.