I’ve been hooked on PopCap’s Bejeweled Blitz since the gem-swapping game turned up as an application on Facebook a couple of years back.
Now they’ve finally released it as a full retail game, and though I wouldn’t normally dream of purchasing a game based on a Facebook app, one hour of the demo persuaded me to instantly reach for my PayPal. It’s essentially a refined version of Bejeweled 2 that improves on every aspect of the previous matching games and like the best PopCap games – Zuma, Plants vs Zombies and Peggle – just turns the fun up to eleven.
The main difference with the retail version is that it sits in windowed mode, logged into Facebook, allowing you to continue to compete against your friends while having other pages open in the background (handy if you like to have an Echofon Twitter feed flashing up at the bottom of your screen when you’re online).
The music is great – cheesy electro-disco – and adds to the game in the same way that the Medieval-style noodlings on Puzzle Quest really add to the atmosphere. However, it doesn’t try to add any plot or other “hook” to the game, and sticks to just the core mechanic, which is “third time lucky” as far as I’m concerned since I never really got into Bejeweled or Bejeweled 2 the way everybody else did.
About the only really distinctive feature is the Badges system of achievement points – earn them for completing five games without using the Hint button, for example – in addition to the Facebook app’s Last Hurrah points-boost and other power-ups.
If you liked any of PopCap’s other games, definitely try the demo. If you want a final answer to the “is implementation more important than ideas” question, it really is a must.