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SummaryPositive Feedback Bonanza part three!
The GoodBejeweled Twist is similar enough to Bejeweled 2 to appeal to the hordes of casual gamers who were hooked on it, but different enough that they're not paying $20 for a prettier version of the same game. While still geared toward mainstream hardware, it uses 3D graphics to display some beautiful visual effects in the background (thanks in part to former demo-coder Chris Hargrove, I'm sure). The option of 1920x1200 resolution works perfectly for my new widescreen display. If you liked the backgrounds of otherworldly landscapes, they still appear in the Zen (previously Endless) mode, which is good for practicing moves without frustration.
There's nothing drastically new about the gameplay, but changes here and there make it interesting. There is more strategy and planning this time around. The new Challenge mode is no longer the same objective over and over with different layouts. There are now a variety of challenges testing skill, strategy, speed, or just plain luck. The hardest ones really are hard and won't be finished in one sitting.
Instead of swapping gems to make matches (which has since been copied by countless other Bejeweled clones), the only move now is a clockwise rotation of four gems. It's confusing at first, but opens up new possibilities, especially when matches can be set up through multiple moves (although the game, through bonuses, encourages as many consecutive matches as possible). Still, it might've been nice to have an additional play mode with the traditional gem swapping as well.
The BadThe speed mode (now called Blitz instead of Action) got a little more basic - instead of racing against an increasingly rapid time bar which, if you were fast enough, could go on for a long time, it is now is fixed at 5 minutes. That makes this play mode repetitive and more predictable. Blitz and Challenge are supposedly "locked" modes, but unlocking them is far easier than the second set of modes (Twilight, Hyper, etc) in Bejeweled 2 - they could've just been available from the start.
The music is a little more varied this time, with different sections playing on different levels. It still has a nice tracker style to it, but doesn't match the quality of Skaven's tracks, which are similar to the last game but are now mostly confined to the Blitz mode. If they had four years, they should've spent more time on the music, which is an important part of the casual gaming experience.
The goofy, booming low voice is back, now goofier, lower and even more booming. A more soothing, more.. human voice might fit this game better. It doesn't startle you at game over anymore, but now there's a jingle that's almost happy.
Finally, I have to ask: "Fruit Bonus Dance". What the hell is this about? How the whole jewel theme suddenly becomes fruit is inexplicable, and the dance bit seems thrown in to amuse the gaming moms, I guess.
The Bottom LineThe king of casual games returns doing what it does best - giving positive feedback! More compliments, bonuses everywhere, and taking level-ups outside the role-playing genre.
In my review of Bejeweled 2, I'd wished that the bombs or other gems would appear in the regular play mode. Well guess what, bombs now appear and are in fact a key part of the gameplay. You no longer run out of moves, but instead get bombs and other nasties in your grid which must be dealt with (blown up or matched) or else the game is over. Locked (unmovable) gems and coal (unmatchable) shake things up in the later levels as well.
Bejeweled Twist loses a little of the last game's simplicity and the ability to get hooked right from the start. But it does keep things interesting and adds features many people were looking for. Call it "extreme casual" gaming.