One of the most popular casual games of all time has a sequel that’s out, and it’s just as popular as the original. But the real question is whether or not it’s worth giving up the original for?
Casual games are popped out a dime a dozen and cost about as much as used mainstream titles (usually marked at $19.99). So when a game like Bejeweled 2 Deluxe emerges onto an already crowded casual-puzzle game scene, it has to be considered for more than just being another fun puzzle game following up on a smash-hit success. The good news is that the game does maintain enough content to be considered a worthy standalone successor to the original Bejeweled. The downside, however, is that there isn’t too much more offered in this sequel that really makes it shine as a sparkling casual title.
The original Bejeweled became popular as a simple pastime on Yahoo, flash-based web portals and digital services, such as Xbox Live. The second game is completely autonomous in that it actually can be downloaded as a real game with real features and game modes. Published by Popcap and distributed via Reflexive’s online game portal, Bejeweled 2 maintains a good balance of fun, visual and audio support and game modes to keep most puzzle fans glued to the screen.
There’s four game modes for players to tackle, including the Classic mode that sees gamers matching up three or more jewels until achieving enough score to move on to the next level. There’s also Puzzle, Endless and Action mode. In Puzzle mode players actually have to solve puzzles by selecting the proper jewels in order to remove all the jewels from the game screen. Players who fail at Puzzle mode can also undo their moves, which makes the mode easy for beginners yet also adds a feeling of endlessness for gamers who repeatedly get stuck on a harder difficulty. Sometimes it’s possible to get so far on a puzzle and realize you may have messed up along the way. But the problem comes in with not knowing how much to undo or how far back you may have messed up. Usually it resulted in just resetting the entire puzzle. For what it’s worth, at least Puzzle mode takes the concept in a slightly different direction, despite being quite similar to the Classic mode.
Action mode and Endless mode are the last two modes available in the game, but both are exactly like Classic mode. Endless – as the name suggests – is literally an endless cavalcade of gems, leaving players to aim for nothing more than to achieve a really hi-score until getting bored or running out of gems to match up and having to quit. Action mode takes the Classic concept and simply adds a timer; in fact, the very counter used to add up the player’s score in the Classic mode is the same timer used to reduce the player’s time. While it seems intense and exciting at first, a major problem erects in the form of the timer itself: if you manage to barely keep matching up gems to reach the score needed to go to the next level, while at the same time the score meter keeps depleting, there’s the awful result of getting stuck on a level for what may seem like forever.
Realistically, the faults in the game are heavily out-weighed by the brisk pace of the gameplay and the unmistakable synthetic soundtrack that accompanies the game. And while the visuals are seemingly sparse, with the exception of some nice looking backgrounds that are usually only visible in-between level loads, the Vangelis-esque music and adequate sound effects make up for the graphics.
Personally, I think Zuma is a much more entertaining franchise, but for anyone looking for a simple puzzle game that offers a few extra modes and aesthetics than the standard-fare casual titles, then Bejeweled 2 Deluxe isn’t a bad way to go.