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Review: Bejeweled 3

Undisputed kings of the casual gaming scene, PopCap Games entrust us with the third installment in what is arguably their most popular series yet, Bejeweled. Is there enough left to squeeze out of this tube of toothpaste? Or will we be left with an all-too-familiar feel that we just paid a hefty $20 for?

It’s safe to assume that we get at least as much gameplay as previous titles, since Bejeweled 3 relies on the same core mechanics of a square-shaped playing field packed with plenty of jewels to shift around and make matches of three or more for points and rewards. Deeper than that, Bejeweled 3 manages to bring new gametypes without making the core game feel foreign. The line between new and old has been walked almost perfectly by the team at PopCap. This makes it the deepest, most appealing and best-looking game in the series.

However, the game’s “Quest” (campaign) mode can get a little repetitive, doing many of the same tasks for each of the levels, but that comes with the territory of casual games. The mini games and challenges are broken up and swapped around enough to keep it fresh for the most part. The Quest mode also gets incrementally more difficult, so it should keep you on your toes for a little while at least.

Long-time fans and newcomers to the series alike will be refreshed and entertained by the perfectly aged and refined Bejeweled formula found here. The addition of new gametypes and challenges only makes the experience that much better.

One of Bejeweled 3‘s newest features is an endless “Zen mode” that allows you to customize your gameplay experience even more. You can change the background music to relaxing ambient and nature sounds, and also enable “Breath Modulation” to guide your breathing, which helps you relax and cool down. You can also enable some built-in “binaural beats”. This is an interesting aspect that is best explained as mood-altering subconscious sounds that are played behind the game’s music. Binaural beats are pretty confusing for those that don’t already know about them, so you might want to check out the Wikipedia page for some more in-depth info. We’ll be testing Bejeweled 3′s binaural beats with a dedicated article in the coming weeks, so watch for that!

If you’ve never played any title in the Bejeweled series (or even if you have), then you can grab the 60-minute-limited Bejeweled 3 demo here and let us know what you think in the comments!

Scores

- Graphics: 8
Despite still relying on 2D graphics, Bejeweled 3 manages to pack in great visual effects and is by far the most crisp-looking game of the series. It even supports proper HD resolutions without stretching any of the 2D sprites.

- Storyline: N/A
None to speak of.

- Gameplay: 9
While it may not be appealing to the pro/l33t/uber gamers of the world, it really doesn’t get much better than Bejeweled when it comes to pleasing everyone else.

- Controls: N/A
If you’ve got a mouse and at least one finger, you should be good to go.

- Lasting Appeal: 9
There’s casual games and then there’s good casual games. The main difference? Replayability and that rewarding yet simple gameplay that’s easy to enjoy in bite-sized gaming sessions. You can guess which category Bejeweled 3 sits in.

Score: 9 Olives

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