60 seconds and a bunch of shiny gems become your best friends in Bejeweled Blitz Live, the latest PopCap title to hit Xbox Live Arcade.
Unlike the other Bejeweled games that are available on almost every single platform imaginable, Blitz throws the player into an epic battle against the clock to rack up as many points as possible. Tapping into the natural competitiveness of humans, and their desire to constantly one-up their friends, Blitz Live is definitely a game that many will find to be ridiculously addictive.
What I really loved about the game was how everything was so clean, simple, and uncomplicated. The menu and interface was straight to the point; I had two different game types to choose from and then four game modes to select. In Classic mode it plays like the Bejeweled we have all grown to love over the years: flip your gems, get a minimum of 3 matching horizontally or vertically, collect points and move on. Because there is the pressure of time, the controls have been switched up a bit, and even though they took a bit to get used to, I can see just how handy they really are. To flip the gem in the direction you want it to go, press the matching button on your controller. For example, to flip to the right one would press the B since that is the button located on the right. In Twist, you move four gems around in a circle to line everything up. This mode threw me off a little but since I played the Plants vs. Zombie mini-game that is similar to this, it didn’t take long. I found that if I used the left and right triggers on my controller, I would remember the directions a lot better. In both modes you can get the special gems for making a row of 4, lightning gems, fiery gems, and more. There is even an achievement if you get a lightning and fire gem in one round.
The local versus was handled perfectly, and even though there weren’t a lot of people to battle online, what I did get to play was rather enjoyable. While playing Classic online, the screen was split in two so I could see how my competition was progressing, but in Twist I had the screen to myself. Since I couldn’t see what was going on, there was an area to the left of the screen where the two of us were in separate bubbles, and as we gained points our bubbles would rise. The bubbles were simple, unobtrusive, and didn’t distract me, which is key since I only had 60 seconds to beat my opponent.
As much as I’d like to say that Bejewled Blitz Live is all about skill, a lot of it has to do with luck. Sometimes the board falls perfectly and you are presented with more opportunities, which in turn equals more points. Sometimes you get a board where you think to yourself, “oh come on! Just give me something!” With the amount of time you have, it can be difficult to plan a strategy but, like with anything else, practice makes perfect. There are a few achievements that are given when a player obtains over 100k and 300k points in either Twist or Classic and I know I won’t be awarded those anytime soon because there are rounds where I struggle just to get 50k, but I still enjoy myself all the same. There are a couple of videos one can download for Bejeweled Blitz Live that will help show you how to get a high score and how to get special gems, so I thought that was really great and useful.
If I had to say something negative about the game, it would be for the gamers out there who aren’t familiar with the frenzy of Blitz, they might feel disappointed because to them the game might lack substance. Not every gamer will find short, 60 second rounds appealing and that’s okay. I know I personally prefer the standard Bejeweled format, but that didn’t make me think negatively of Blitz or the way it’s meant to be played. In the menu, there is a section where players can check for downloadable content, so it’s clear that PopCap has plans to bring new content for Bejewled Blitz Live, but it’s unclear as to when that will happen and what it will even be. For now, players can download a free premium Bejeweled theme for their Xbox dashboards and it’s very well done. I have it for my profile and I love it.
For only 800 MSP, fans of Bejeweled will find Blitz Live to be a great addition to their XBLA collection. For the gamer out there who isn’t too familiar with the game or the play style, I’d suggest downloading the free demo and giving it a shot. Odds are, you’ll get hooked like everyone else!
Bejeweled Blitz Live is available now for 800 Microsoft points through the Xbox marketplace and is part of the XBLA House Party promotion.