Bejeweled Twist (PC) review
"As always, the basic goal is to clear three panels adjacent panels of a particular color: red, yellow, blue, green, white, orange or purple. Previously this was accomplished by moving a single piece through the grid, swapping out as you went. That mechanic is gone now. Instead, you move a circular patch over the field, position it wherever you think is best, then set a 'twist' into motion. This will cause the four pieces caught within that patch to turn clockwise a single quarter of a rotation. At that point, three or more connected panels will vanish and possibly even set a chain reaction in motion (if you were particularly clever)."
Bejeweled Twist is precisely what its title implies: a twist on the classic Bejeweled formula. This doesn't sound particularly ambitious until you stop to think about it. Bejewled has been experienced by millions of people throughout the world. It has appeared on cell phones, inspired numerous clones on many platforms and in general can be found just about anywhere you turn. People adore it the way they once did Tetris. Messing with such a beloved formula? That's risky.
When you get around to playing Bejeweled Twist, though, you'll find that the new mechanics aren't as radically different as you might have supposed. At its heart, the final product is easily recognized as the logical evolution of Bejeweled.
As always, the basic goal is to clear three panels adjacent panels of a particular color: red, yellow, blue, green, white, orange or purple. Previously this was accomplished by moving a single piece through the grid, swapping out as you went. That mechanic is gone now. Instead, you move a circular patch over the field, position it wherever you think is best, then set a 'twist' into motion. This will cause the four pieces caught within that patch to turn clockwise a single quarter of a rotation. At that point, three or more connected panels will vanish and possibly even set a chain reaction in motion (if you were particularly clever). The game as a whole feels much like Bejeweled as you remember it.
Even though Bejeweled Twist is meant to be a casual game--a goal it accomplishes quite nicely, given how easy it is to sit down and play in windowed mode while accomplishing various other tasks online--the generally shallow design wouldn't keep people engaged for long if all they had to do was move pieces around a bit. Thankfully, that's not the case. The whole time you play, you'll be building up a score. The longer you keep at it, the more proficient you'll become, yet there's always the sense that you can do better. In this way, the game doesn't have to challenge you because you'll take care of that yourself.
Still, the developers wisely hedged their bets by including score multipliers. These increase the number of points you gain each time you clear panels. You have to build them up slowly, either by making sure that every single move you make--and yes, this is always possible, even if it's not easy--removes panels, or by clearing them in a set order. Along the left side of the screen, you'll see an indicator that tells you the order in which everything should be removed. However you accomplish it, maxing out the multiplier meter will occasionally replace random panels with fruit. These can be removed to obliterate any pieces of the same color, netting you a ton of points along the way. Power to the fruit!
Since people who are chasing scores would quickly lose interest if there weren't some limiting factor, Bejeweled Twist presents hazards that make it difficult to keep a single game going for more than several minutes. Sometimes, locks will appear and prevent you from rotating certain pieces. This is an inconvenience, but you can work around it. Another concern are pieces of coal that will only vanish if you take them out with special pieces gained by removing four or five pieces at once. Elsewhere, panels will drop into sight and you'll realize with unbridled horror that they are actually bombs! Yes, bombs. If you don't remove them within the number of turns indicated--or clear a round, if you happen to be right on the verge of doing so--they'll explode and all of your progress goes BOOM!
Such play mechanics should keep core gamers enthused but there are plenty of people who will play Bejeweled Twist just to relax. For them, the notion of bombs exploding and ruining everything might not prove so endearing. With this in mind, the developers included a 'Zen' mode wherein such threats are completely absent. All you need to do is keep removing those panels and smiling as combos flash across the screen. The complete lack of risk is the perfect setting for grandmothers, children or just inexperienced casual gamers who are looking to get some practice before attempting the real thing.
If you tire of the main mode, there's also a “Challenge” area that can be explored for the sake of variety. Here you must satisfy certain objectives to unlock additional challenges. They start out simple. For example, the first one asks you to rid the screen of five panels in a single move. It isn't long before you're trying more complicated procedures, though, such as wiping out three sets of red blocks consecutively (fiendishly difficult, given the way blocks pile up and get in the way).
Though it's difficult to argue against the inclusion of alternate modes, Bejeweled Twist is ultimately a casual game that fares best when it keeps things simple. Thus, the real fun is in “Classic” mode and its bombs, fruit and tension... or in “Zen” mode if you're just looking for a bit of a breather. Though the title might not make obvious innovations like we've recently seen from the likes of Puzzle Quest, its core mechanics are still interesting enough to keep you enchanted--perhaps even obsessed--for hours of casual gaming. How's that for a twist?
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 25, 2008)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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