Monday, March 21, 2011

Review: Bejeweled Blitz Live

PopCap Games' gem-busting title recently landed on Xbox LIVE Arcade as part of the House Party promotion and is, without a doubt, one of the most addictive little slices of gaming I’ve ever experienced. Despite the fact that there are still a few question marks regarding the title... primarily, is it worth the 800 MS points it’ll cost you to experience the Xbox version when the same game is readily available to play for free on Facebook?

The game itself needs very little explaining, surely by now just about everyone on the face of the Earth has had a taste of the Bejeweled world, but just in case you’ve missed it, the basic premise of the game is to detonate as many gems as possible and score as big as possible from the multicoloured board you’re faced with. This is done by moving the pieces either horizontally or vertically and matching up three or more gems of the same colour. Bear in mind though, the pieces can only be moved if there’s a three-plus gem match available, making things a little more frantic as you scan the board hurriedly for the next move. Where Bejeweled Blitz really amps up the pressure is by bringing in the timer. Each game lasts a mere 60 seconds and believe me, when you’re struggling to find matches it can feel far less.

The controls are straightforward enough, tap the Y button to move the selected gem up, A button to move the gem down and X and B for left and right. I was settled into this new control method within a couple of games and it actually felt very natural after a few games more.

Alongside the standard Bejeweled mode the Xbox version also throws in Twist mode. In Twist mode instead of moving one gem you now get to rotate four of them either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The goal is the same, to detonate the pieces as quickly as possible and rack up that big score but Twist mode completely changes the way you look at the board in front of you and is a welcome little addition to proceedings.

There are a slightly limited selection of game modes on offer with this title, standard single player, Battle mode (local and over LIVE) and Party mode. Single player is obviously self explanatory and is the same game you know and love from Facebook, albeit without the rather helpful boosts that the Facebook game gives us. Battle mode pitches you against an opponent where the overall winner is determined by score, style and gems detonated - and is one of the most competitive 60 seconds you’ll ever experience, particularly if played locally against a friend or family member.

Party mode is potentially the place you’ll spend most of your time; up to 16 players battling away to get to the top of the pile. Progress is tracked via little bubbles at the side of the screen that rise and fall as you overtake, and are overtaken, by your opponents. The biggest downside to Party mode is that there’s no cut off point and no score total you’re all striving to reach - so in reality the game could basically go on endlesslly, although it is still a good feeling when you reach the top of the bubble meter, regardless of how long you manage to remain there.

All your scores are tracked on leaderboards, so it’s easy to see how you fare in comparison to your friends and the rest of the Xbox LIVE crowd - a vital feature in a game of this type and something else to keep you coming back for more.

All in all there’s one word that perfectly sums up the Bejeweled Blitz experience and that word is addictive. It’s a classic ‘just one more go’ type of game, largely due to the fact that each session lasts a lightning fast 60 seconds. I can admit I’ve popped the game on for a quick go and still been blasting away two hours later. Despite its Facebook brother being free to play I’d still heartily recommend adding this little gem to your games library. But beware, once you start to pop those gems you might never stop.


Not sure if it is the same game that was added on world of warcraft? Well, it's a great add-on and relaxing after long hour of playing MMO and fighting games.

You can lose a lot of hours to Bejeweled very easily.