Bejeweled Blitz Live

Originally Published: 28 February 2011

Bejeweled is such a simple concept and one that’s being copied many, many times. On Facebook, Bejeweled Blitz served to steal away any free time between status updates and, for those of us who are friends with her, Loz was the absolute queen of the 60 second jewel swapping bonanza. But now the game’s been released on Xbox Live Arcade is it really worth handing over your Microsoft Points for?

Let’s get this out of the way right now. Like everything Popcap has produced since the history of time, this is an addictive as hell title. It’s made all the more alluring by the sixty-second gameplay model. Each game lasts a minute, therefore it’s immediately possible to justify just one more go because, after all, one more go is only going to take you sixty seconds. The fact that sixty of these little gaming bursts add up to an hour doesn’t seem to enter your mind as you have another go, and then another, and then another just to try and better your score.

A lot of Bejeweled Blitz is down to luck – you’ve only got a minute, so you’ve not got the time to set up brilliant gem drops. You need the board to start off nicely and you’ve got to hit the ground running as soon as the game starts and, initially, the controls will bugger you up brilliantly. Bejeweled 2 worked with the A button and a flick of the left stick. Bejeweled Blitz works using the buttons to represent the direction you want the swap to go in. It takes a while to get used to and, initially at least, allows you the joy of watching your score improve as you go. That’s Classic mode. Twist mode is different – it uses a similar control method to Gyromancer where you rotate four gems left or right depending on which button you press.  Twist, though, is just a lot slower. You still get 60 seconds but it’s a lot more laid back and less exciting than the classic mode.

Graphically it’s not as pretty looking as Bejeweled 2, but then in a sixty second round you haven’t got time to faff about looking at pretty pictures, you need to know which gems are where and where your cursor is – that’s all that matters and it does exactly what it needs to. The sounds, meanwhile, are about as exciting as you’d expect from things exploding and being zapped by various power-ups.

There’s multiplayer modes as well, a one-on-one duel which is just like the single player game and a sixteen person party mode where you all compete for points but there’s not actually any kind of victory to be had, other than the glory of being better than your slow-fingered friends.

It’s good, addictive and fun. It’s Popcap through and through, and while I’m not sure that the sixty-second format works as well on the consoles as it does on Facebook it’s certainly an entertaining way to lose a day or seven….