Developer: PopCap Games
PopCap are never above trying to replicate their Facebook success as full retail outings, and Bejeweled Blitz is no exception. Its tight time limits and aggressive leaderboards made for a casual smash- and to celebrate, no less than two versions have just dropped into my lap. An XBLA port acts as week two of Microsoft's Summer Of Arcade, whilst Mastertronic have released the popular gem-busting minigame on a disc for PC.
The premise of Bejeweled Blitz is very simple- and while I'm loathe to patronise anyone, I'll give a quick rundown of the mechanics. The objective is to match lines of three or more gems by swapping their positions or twisting a group of four jewels around a central axis. The more gems you destroy, the higher the score you receive; and making larger lines rewards you with explosive power gems and hypercubes that can annihilate entire segments of the board. But let's face it, you probably already knew that.
Once you've chosen whether to indulge in the regular or 'twist' species of PopCap's gem-smashing monster, you'll be loosed onto the familiar grid with its familiar gameplay... but this is where Bejeweled Twist makes its signature change to the formula. Unlike most casual games, players are given a single minute to make their matches. Once the sixty seconds are up, you're given a score and the whole process starts all over again.
This might sound completely pointless and bereft of any value for money, but Bejeweled Blitz thrives on compulsive self-improvement and ruthless, cut-throat competition with your friends' best scores. To this end, the XBLA version contains dynamic high score tables and a range of multiplayer modes that are designed to provoke fierce rivalry on your friends list. The PC edition, on the other hand, features seamless Facebook integration that makes posting scores (and annoying your friends with constant updates) a cinch.
Every point you earn is converted into ranks for each gametype, providing completionists with plenty of incentive to keep on matchin'. The PC version also includes forty trophy-esque awards that make striving for the best scores worthwhile, though its XBLA brother sadly shafts this feature in favour of a few ridiculously difficult achievements. Seriously, I doff my cap to anyone who can net 100% completion on this one.
At the end of the day, the decision of whether or not to invest in Bejeweled Blitz depends on how extroverted you are. Budding online socialites will enjoy the addictive social mechanics, but more solitary gamers will be better off investing in one of the core Bejeweled titles.
- Classic Bejeweled gameplay
- Seamless and addictive social functionality
- Slick HD presentation
- Poor value for solo gamers
- Not much in terms of innovation
- XBLA version has no unlockable awards
The Short Version: The PC version of Bejeweled Blitz is slightly superior to its XBLA counterpart thanks to Facebook integration and a greater selection of rewards, but the core experience is worthwhile regardless of which platform you choose. At the end of the day, addiction and competition vastly outweighs the restrictive time limits, though more insular players will be better off with Bejeweled 3.