Review: Bejeweled Twist

Posted by | July 29, 2009

bejeweled-twist-boxshot Continuing on with our trek through casual gaming, we took a break from abusing cute, fuzzy colored koosh-balls for their eyeballs and decided to move onto shattering glittering gemstones in spaaaace. At least, this is how our first impression of Bejeweled Twist came about. A great deal of the artwork and presentation tied up in the game seems to suggest SciFi elements, right down to alien landscapes, and a spacecraft moving between levels.

The game itself is remarkably similar to the original title of Bejeweled: take a 2D grid of gemstones of various colors, exchange the positions of the precious gems to match them in rows, once matched they shatter and their neighbors collapse in to take up the emptied space. The twist of Bejeweled Twist, of course, happens to be all about “rotating” gems. Instead of the traditional, pick two and switch their places, the cursor instead spins four gems.

The matching still works similarly to the original game—make a match of three or more gemstones in a row or column and bam! there they go. For added effect, matching four jewels creates an exploding gem of the same type that, when matched, detonates, destroying the gems around it. Matching five creates a lightning gem that, also when matched, discharges electricity across the entire board vertically and horizontally, shattering all the gems it touches. Touching off a lightning gem can be exhilarating to watch.

In fact, with these new types of added gemstones and the special effects that follow them, scintillating and enjoyable combos can be triggered that dance like glorious fireworks. Here comes in a cute little addition for anyone who just couldn’t get enough of it once: Instant Replay.

Players are given an infinite number of spins to produce a match; but are given an incentive to get a match every time as there is a points accelerator attached to making matches. As the player makes matches it rises from x1 to x2 to … much, much higher. Except that every time the player fails to make a match they can lose a multiplier, until it falls all the way back to x1 and they have to rebuild it. The strategies invited by this become quite interesting: go for the combo that will set off a series of lightning and flame gems? or play it cool, matching three at a time while stacking on the multipliers?

To add strategies there are also in-game challenges to match particular gems in series. Managing to get those matches (without extra spins) adds quite a few points and a good feeling afterwards.

During game play obstacles are also thrown at the intrepid player. Pieces of coal get mixed into the mess. Coal cannot be matched; but it can be destroyed by fire and lightning gems. The next obstacle—existing in the normal game play—are explosives. These gems appear with counters on them that tick down with each spin. Fail to match/destroy a detonator gem before it’s spin counter times out and it goes critical. During critical the player is given one last chance to save themselves—and their game—from failure by playing a type of roulette. The odds get worse each time thereafter, so stopping bomb gems becomes a priority on later levels.

To add sheer challenge and joy to the game, Bejeweled Twist also has challenge levels specifically for people like us voces. These are a series of planets accessible from the main menu that set up particular challenges like: create a 5-combo, or destroy eight pieces of coal in one move, or shatter these types of jewels in this sequence. Finishing off these planets can be a great source of satisfaction, especially because some of them teach and demonstrate new strategies for game play involving the use of the twist mechanism to get gems into position and set them up to bring them crashing down.

As a casual game, Bejeweled Twist really kept our attention. It has a beautiful fireworks display sort of affect; keeps us on our toes while trying to keep our minds nimble during the boring workday; and has helped, more than once, to provide a much needed escape from idle doldrums.

Be sure to check out The Helvetica Venture (here on Vox ex Machina) and Black Hat Magick by Kyt Dotson.

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