Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
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Over the years, PopCap's uber-popular Bejeweled franchise has become the gold standard for matching puzzle games. Its popularity spans just about every modern platform imaginable and there are few players out there that haven't swapped more than a few gems in their time. While Bejeweled didn't invent the swapping, matching, puzzle gameplay that has become so ubiquitously popular, it was certainly one of the biggest contributors to it's present day success.
This particular iteration of Bejeweled is the mobile counterpart to PopCaps most recent full-blown game, Bejeweled 3. In fact, this iOS version replaces the now retired Bejeweled 2, which until recently was available for purchase in the App Store. The gameplay is the same gem swapping it has always been, and it's as rock solid as it's ever been. There are even some refreshed modes to mix things up a bit.
For any players who may not be familiar with the Bejeweled experience, it's fairly simple. The screen is filled with gems of all shapes and colors. By swapping any gem with an adjacent gem, the player creates matches of three or more identical gems. These gems are then cleared from the screen and more drop down from above to fill in the gap. By matching in rapid succession or in larger groups, player are awarded more points and special gems. Each time players create matching of four or more gems, special gems appear which can be used to different effects for quickly clearing large numbers of gems and racking up lots of points.
This iOS version of Bejeweled includes a Classic mode in which players clear gems and attain point totals to advance from level to level until they run out of matches to make with the gems. There is also a Zen mode where players can endlessly match gems with no worry of puzzling through difficult levels or hitting point goals. Then there is the Diamond Mine mode where the bottom of the screen is packed with dirt and players can only clear the dirt by making matches right next to it. As the player clears more and more dirt they dig further into the earth and find hidden treasures worth tons of points. All the while a timer is counting down and time is only added when whole lines of dirt have been cleared. This mode is challenging and fast paced.
Bejeweled is, as always, a very familiar but always exciting experience. The visuals are spot on, really taking advantage of the retina display, and the various modes give players some good choices so they don't get burned out. Admittedly, it's somewhat mysterious how PopCap has managed to keep this game so fresh with the core gameplay still very similar to what it was originally. Apparently if the gem ain't broke, don't fix it.