I’m not a huge fan of casual games. Flash games; Facebook games; online games; they’re just not ‘my thing’. I consider myself to be a ‘hardcore gamer’ – focusing on first person shooters which test my hand-eye coordination, strategy and skill. I feel as though casual games are unable to provide me with the stimulation required to feel a sense of urgency and a need for strategy. Bejeweled 3 proved me wrong. This game proves even casual games can give you that sense of urgency, attention to detail and get your heart racing!
Bejeweled 3 has four game types, with four unlockable mini-games. The mini-games are unlocked by either reaching a particular game level or score. The four game types are: Zen, Lightning, Quest and Classic.
If you have never played a Bejeweled game before, let me explain the basic concept of the game. There are colored jewels randomly placed on a grid. You then switch one jewel with another to create either a horizontal or vertical chain of three or more of the same colored jewels. Once linked in a group of three or more jewels, the chain disappears from the board and more jewels fall from the top to fill in the empty spaces.
In the Classic gametype, you simply play through the game, using the basic rules, progressing through the levels until there are no more moves available. Once you reach level 5, you will unlock a mini-game: Poker. Now, this is not any regular poker. In Poker, Bejeweled style, you need to create chains to form hands. Let me explain further: every chain you make creates a card, so a chain of red jewels will give you a red card. You continue to create 5 chain total, giving you five cards. You use those cards to form your poker hand. So, if you want a full house of red of blue, you need to create three red chains and two blue chains. Sounds simple enough? Well, trust me – it isn’t. The color you want is not always available on the board! Definitely a game where thinking ahead is a requirement!
Next up is the Lightning game mode. In this game mode, you play through until your time runs out. You start with 1:00. On the board are several time jewels. These jewels, when included in a chain of three or more of the same color, give you extra time. The point of this game mode is to get the highest possible score before the time runs out. Once you reach a score of 100K, you will unlock the Ice Storm mini-game.
The Ice Storm mini-game is similar to the Lightning game mode, but with a twist. In this mini-game, there are rising ice columns. Your mission is to ensure the columns do not rise to the top. You can do so by either forming a horizontal chain of jewels, which will make the column decrease in size by one square on the grid, or by linking three or more jewels in a vertical line, thus destroying the entire column. You continue until one of the columns have breached the top.
Next up is Quest game mode, where the object of the game is to complete mini-quests to uncover the Lost Relics of Bejeweled. To do so, you are given a relic with missing components. In order to restore the relic, you must complete one of the several different mini-quests. Each completed mini-quest restored a section of the missing relic. Some quests are similar to other mini-games, while others are a little more different and difficult. There are several relics, with several mini-quests to choose from. Each relic producing harder and harder mini-quests. I won’t go into all of them, but I will give you a piece of advice: start with the mini-quests you think will be easiest first as you only need to complete some, not all, of the mini-quests! There are 40 mini-quests in total, with 5 relics to uncover.
Once you unlock your first relic, you will also unlock a mini-game: Diamond Mine, where you must clear all the “ground” until it reaches the white line at the bottom of the screen. You do this by completing a chain of jewels that are adjacent to the dirt.
Next up is the Zen game type. Zen is the regular game type with a more relaxing twist. It has several additional options that you can add and customise. The first is the breath modulation which assists with creating a relaxing and calming environment by regulating your breathing. There are both visual and non-visual aids. The visual aid consists of a slight white hue which rises and falls as your breathing should rise and fall. Along with the breathing aids, you can add ambient sounds such as: “coastal”, “crickets”, “forest”, “ocean surf”, “rain leaves”, “waterfall” or put the sounds on random for added effect. Honestly, these two combined truly do create a relaxing and calm environment. I truly enjoyed listening to some waterfalls while playing! Very relaxing! Especially for a game that requires some thinking.
Also included in the Zen game type are the options to add mantras. Bejeweled describes these mantras as “various positive textual affirmations” that are displayed as you play to help “focus your thoughts on beneficial areas for meditation”. Mantras aren’t really my thing, but for people who want an extremely calm and positive environment – try them out and let me know what you think!
The next option, which I thought was a little strange, were the binaural beats. Binaural beats are sounds played at different frequencies believed to reduce anxiety. Headphones are required, and there are several different options: Alpha Pattern, believed to help produce a meditative state; Beta Pattern, to help enter an alert and engaged state of mind; Chakra Circle, to align your auras and create an overall positive flow of energy; Chill Cycle, which essentially helps you chill out by aiding in releasing negative thoughts and feelings; Delta Pattern, to aid in a deep state, similar to sleeping and dreaming; Euphoria, to help open your mind to positive thoughts. Then you have Lucid Dream, to subconsciously gain better control over your dreams. The next three are pretty self explanatory: Mood Lifter, Meditation and Pain Suppressor (emotional pain, not physical). And finally, we have Sleepy Time, which claims to help go from wide awake to passing out asleep! It should be noted, the binaural beats come with a safety warning:
Once you reach level 5 in the Zen mode, you will unlock the Butterflies mini-game. To be quite honest, this game was exactly the same as Ice Storm, except, instead of trying to avoid the ice columns from reaching the top and overflowing, you’re trying to avoid having the butterflies reach the top where a spider is waiting for its dinner.
Overall, I love Bejeweled 3. It made me think ahead, but it also gave me that adrenaline rush FPS games give me. Several times, when I saw the timer flash red, or a butterfly getting close to the top, I could feel my heart racing. I think that’s how you truly know if a game is good, or great! Also, because there are so many mini-games and game types, it has a TON of replayability!
I think any casual gamer, and even some ‘hardcore gamers’ would truly enjoy this game! Bejeweled 3 is available for download from PopCap Games’ website for both Mac and PC for only $19.95, as well as a free 60 minute trial on their website! Seriously. Why are you still here? Go check it out!