Bejeweled by PopCap icon

Bejeweled ($0.99) by PopCap is back and better than ever.

Many puzzle game fans will know Bejeweled – it’s the match–3 game that has had much success, and many other games are based on the same premise. Bejeweled 2 was around for a long time, but now PopCap has pulled that version and released this one in its place.

I’m a huge fan of Bejeweled – in fact, I have Bejeweled 3 on my MacBook Pro and I love the game (great way to kill some time…for a long while). So I was delighted to learn that PopCap had released a completely revamped iOS Bejeweled. You could even go on to say that this is a mini version of Bejeweled 3 on the iPhone.

The graphics have been completely redone, and rather than the fuzzy graphics of Bejeweled 2, now they are completely Retina display ready (finally!). The soundtrack comes from Bejeweled 3 as well, so those familiar with the computer version will instantly recognize it.

Bejeweled by PopCap screenshot

The reason I say that this is a mini version of Bejeweled 3, though, is because PopCap only decided to include three modes from the full desktop counterpart. In this new iPhone version, you will have access to: Classic, Zen, and Diamond Mine.

Classic is the original – just keep matching and go as far as you can before there are no more moves available. It’s the tried-and-true method of any match–3 game. If you score a huge chain of combos or something else “spectacular,” then you can watch a replay of that amazing move.

Zen mode is pretty much the new “endless” mode, with some calming additions. There are three things that you can modify to customize your Zen experience: Ambient Sounds, Mantras, and Breathing Modulation.

Ambient Sounds will allow you to replace the game music with environmental sounds (white noise) to help you relax and focus (though I don’t think focus is necessary in a mode where you can’t lose). There are six sounds, with a random option. A slider is there to adjust how loud the ambient music is compared with the rest of the game sounds.

Mantras will display positive text on the screen to help you focus and relax. There’s a subliminal option too, though I’m not sure if this worked for me (I don’t think I feel any different). The visibility of these positive messages can be adjusted with the slider.

Breathing Modulation gives you audio and visual feedback that will help your breathing, thus helping you relax as you play Bejeweled. If this is enabled, you can choose to have a visual indicator in the background (exhale and inhale).

I was never a real fan of Zen on Bejeweled 3, because I thought it was a little gimmicky and I didn’t really get the vibes from it. However, if you just want to come home from work and relax with a nice game of Bejeweled, then this mode will probably be best for that.

Diamond Mine is the last mode available in Bejeweled, and I personally find it to be the best in this new Bejeweled. You will have gems sitting atop dirt, and you must match these gems to get rid of them and dig your way through the dirt to find gold, diamonds, and rare artifacts before the time runs out.

To clear the current level and move on to the next, you will have to clear the top two lines of dirt (by matching gems that are adjacent to the dirt), which will then earn you more time. There’s a moment after you clear those lines of dirt to continue matching and clear out the entire screen of dirt, which you will then earn a “mega bonus” and more time. Each level advance will bring in more dirt that pushes gems upwards, so make sure to not lose those valuable flame gems and hypercubes.

I was rather disappointed to see that my favorite mode, Ice Storm, did not make it, as well as Butterflies, Poker, Quest, and Lightning. Perhaps having all eight modes is impossible to do on the iPhone, but adding at least one or two more game modes would be nice to have in a future update.

Bejeweled by PopCap screenshot

Another feature that they brought from Bejeweled 3 are the badges. Once you meet the minimum requirements, you’re awarded with a pretty badge in the game. These badges have multiple levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. There are even some “Elite” badges to earn, such as matching two hypercubes together (it actually does something really awesome). Unfortunately, these badges don’t translate into something like Game Center achievements, which is unfortunate.

Like the desktop counterpart, Bejeweled now includes ranks with the local high scores. It’s a nice way to see your Bejeweled addiction on-the-go.

You may have noticed that the main title screen shows “Blitz” as well as the other game modes. Those who are unfamiliar with Blitz just need to know that it is the competitive Facebook game, where you must score as many points as possible in 60 seconds.

This button is a link to download the free Bejeweled Blitz game from the App Store (or if you already have it, this will minimize Bejeweled and launch Blitz instead). The Blitz version also features Retina display graphics and a gorgeous new interface. The game now includes stuff like the Daily Spin, so you are no longer tied to the computer for that stuff.

The only thing that I found weird is that Bejeweled is iPhone only, while Bejeweled Blitz is a universal app. I hope that they plan on making Bejeweled a universal app (perhaps with iCloud support) sometime.

Overall, I’m fairly impressed with Bejeweled. It’s a nice change after years of having the original Bejeweled 2. Hopefully they will include more game modes from Bejeweled 3 in this iPhone version in the future (especially Ice Storm).

If you’re a Bejeweled fan, then make sure to get this new Bejeweled; it’s a bargain at only $0.99.