Bejeweled Twist has been around for several years now. A variation on the match-3 theme, you must line up three or more matching gems to remove them from the board, filling up a points bar to warp to the next level. Instead of swapping gems vertically or horizontally (like in the earlier Bejewelled games), however, blocks of four gems are rotated - to make matches and set up chains and cascades for big points.
I dabbled with the PC version when it was first released, and didn’t find it as enjoyable as the original Bejeweled format. To be perfectly honest, I probably didn’t give it a fair go - mainly because it was difficult to get away from the traditional match 3 mindset, and embrace instead the concept of rotation. However, each new version deserves to be judged on its own merits, so here goes.
Graphics are jewel-bright, clean and colourful, with a smooth, ambient electronica soundtrack cruising in the galactic background. You have a choice of controls, using either the stylus or control pad & buttons to select and swap gems. The latter is not as smooth or simple as a swift double tap to the screen, but it offers another option for gamers with oversized mitts.
For those new to match 3 games, there’s a tutorial which explains the game mechanics, as well as ‘specials’ - such as flame and lightning gems - which are created via matches of four or more, and can explode or destroy entire rows and columns. Old hands will also benefit from running through the tutorial, since the rotator opens up a whole new can o’ worms.
As if dealing with spinning gems wasn’t enough challenge, several interesting tile types are thrown in for extra spice. For example, ‘locked’ gems can’t be moved, but can be matched. Coal lumps can’t be matched, but can be moved or destroyed with explosions. Bombs contain a potentially game ending payload and a timer; nothing like a countdown to instil a sense of panic and impending doom! If you can’t match or destroy them before the timer reaches zero – and fail a ‘second chance’ spin, you’ll have to start afresh.
In addition to Classic mode, there are several others on offer – two of which must be unlocked. With no bombs to contend with, there’s no possibility of losing in Zen mode; it’s designed for just chilling out, and is also useful for learning the ropes. Blitz mode is a timed session of classic play, with the idea being to accrue as many points as possible within a 5 minute window. Challenge mode has specific criteria to fulfil, such as colour and number of gems to be matched.
Unfortunately, the planned two-player Battle mode session didn’t eventuate, so I can’t provide any insight into that particular feature. However, according to the blurb it’s a pitched battle for two, involving a race to fill the points bar, and delivering surprise packages (bombs) to your opponent. Sounds like fun… provided you can find a friend with their own copy of the game.
If you’re a fan of Bejeweled there’s a good chance you’ll also enjoy this variant. Be warned, though: it takes a little time adjusting to the different mechanics, but it does kinda grow on you… plus the replay factor is quite high. If you’d prefer to get a feel for Bejeweled Twist before parting with any readies, why not try the free demo on the PopCap Games website?