What can you do in one minute?
I have played many games over the years, and a lot of them have been good. Some games entice you into a deep and engrossing story that compels you to keep playing until you reach the games end. Other games may offer a social, multiplayer aspect that keeps the player coming back for some friendly competition. Then there are the small casual games that seem to get into your head by simply offering 5 minutes of distraction. Before you realise it, you find that you have been playing this same game for the last few years, whilst the bigger games have simply come and gone.
This is how I find Bejewelled, the match three or more casual puzzle game. Popcap, the company responsible for this masterpiece, are known for releasing games that quickly become addictive, with many an hour lost to their unique brand of casual gaming goodness. But I can honestly say that Bejewelled is the game that I always return to when there is a spare few minutes.
The joy of Bejewelled is its simplicity and the relatively small amount of time that the player needs to invest. How can this be improved upon? Simple, limit the player to one minute and challenge them to attain the highest score that they can.
That is the premise behind Bejewelled Blitz. The main formula is unchanged. Players are presented with a grid containing a random selection of coloured jewels. By swapping with adjacent jewels, the player must match three or more of the same jewels to make them disappear, allowing new jewels to fall form the top.
This time around though, the player has only one minute to achieve the highest score possible. Players will no longer need to worry about having no more available moves. They will, however, need to find and use special gems if they have any hope of reaching a respectable score. These special gems can appear after matching four or more gems, or they can simply fall from the top of the screen. There are explosive gems, that can obliterate all adjacent gems, score multiplyers, and even a block that, when activated, can remove all jewels of the chosen colour.
To aid the player in accomplishing a score to make their friends green with envy, they can collect the coins that can be found on the board. These coins can, in between games, be spent on some much needed boosts. These range from the cheap and cheerful detonator, that explodes all special gems on the board, and scranmbler, which scrambles the gems, to the much more expensive free multiplyer, which gives a free multiplyer gem at the beginning of the game. There are also the mystery gem boost, which adds a random mystery gem to the board, and the +5 seconds, which is both self explanatory and incredibly useful. These boosts last for three games and the player can buy a maximum of three at a time.
There are a number of badges to be obtained for different achievements, along with a ranking that the player gains for reaching a certain number of points.
Blitz began its life as a simple free FaceBook game. This free game is still available and you may be wondering why you should pay for a game that can be played for free by anyone with a FaceBook account. Well, that is simple. This fully featured version of the game still has all of the functionality of its free counterpart, complete with the ability to announce your achievements and gloat to your friends once you have a particularly high score. But, on top of all this, there is the ability to play full screen, some wonderfully enhanced audio and, most important of all, the game runs a lot smoother than its free version. This is of the utmost importance in a game where you have only one minute to prove your skills. Oh, and did I mention the huge pile of free coins that you get when you first connect to FaceBook with the game?
I am not the hugest fan of FaceBook games, mostly because I hardly use the service. But PopCap have, yet again, proved that everything that they touch turns into an addictive, free time consuming, adventure into obsessive game playing. I would be quite happy to play this game without the FaceBook functionality, so that just counts as an added bonus. Now, if you would excuse me, I think I can fit in a few more rounds without anyone noticing. My high score is currently 127,850, by the way.