Bejeweled Blitz Live – Review
If you haven’t played at least one game in the Bejeweled franchise, the likelihood of you being able to read this article is staggeringly low because it probably means you’ve never used a computer. The fast-paced jewel matching game is the grand-daddy of all casual games and has been ported to just about every device that has ever been capable of playing games. Bejeweled Blitz, a 60 second and highly competitive version of the title, has been free to Facebook users for quite some time now and even people who hate Facebook’s typical selection of games tend to make an exception here.
PopCap Games, the developer of Bejeweled, is no stranger to the console world either, but it may be that they waited just a little too long to bring the puzzler to Xbox Live. For 800 MS points, you too can own what everyone else has already been playing for free, with a few added bonuses to keep things interesting. For those unfamiliar, in Bejeweled Blitz Live players use their cursor to swap adjacent gems on a grid to match up 3 or more of the same color. Chaining matches together earns higher points and special gems like multipliers, area blasts and entire color elimination gems can be used to really get things going.
The big difference (and justification for the cost) isn’t in the HD graphics or surround sound, but that it’s now multiplayer. Really, all you’re doing is competing to see who can get the highest score in the scant 60 seconds, starting with the same board. Two players can go head to head locally or you can play with up to 15 additional players on line in a party. Your total score, a Style factor and how many Amps (4 or more matched gems) you get all factor into the total win at the end of the minute. There are no attacks to send the way of other players or bonus tools you can use to boost your score prior to starting. It’s always a level playing field even though you earn XP as you play. As far as I can tell though, XP only counts towards two of the 12 achievements you can earn.
An alternate version of the game is included as well, called Twist, where players manipulate the gems by rotating a group of 4 in a group to make matches with controls similar to that of Hexic HD. It can be a nice change of pace, but we found the Classic mode to be much more enjoyable and easier to score on.
A couple of things to note. Most people familiar with whatever version of the title they’ve played in the past will need to acquaint themselves with a new control scheme. In this case, the left stick movies the cursor (which can be a lot slower than typical with a mouse) and the Y, B, X, A buttons swap with gems above, below, to the left and to the right respectively. A better alternative may have been to assign the right stick to swapping based on flick direction, but here they’ve reserved it for scrolling up and down the player list. Frankly, why anyone would want to navigate the players in a 60 second game, I can’t fathom. That’s precious seconds lost that can mean the difference between first and last place.
For a 10 dollar game, I expected more. Bejeweled Blitz Live is a fantastic distraction and fans of the other versions will love playing on the big screen, but it lacks a few of the features found on Facebook, like the boosts that have become popular. Mostly though, we’re talking spending cash on an otherwise free game. Even iPod/iPhone owners only need sacrifice 99 cents for their version AND it feeds into their Facebook accounts. Even the addition of multiplayer doesn’t quite justify a 10 times price increase.
Still, it’s hard to deny just how fun Bejeweled Blitz Live is and how satisfying it can be to top your personal leaderboard.
Bejeweled Blitz Live is available now on Xbox Live for 800 MS points.