Many games have tried to go up against Bejeweled, and some have done a very fine job, re-engineering the classic gem-swapping match-three mechanics and giving it some kind of inventive new twist.
But, in the end, Bejeweled is a part of gaming history, and however much a game improves on that gameplay it can never be as recognised as the original. It’s important, therefore, not to stray too far from the source material.
The title suggests that this follow up from PopCap brings a twist to the Bejeweled gameplay, and that’s exactly what it does. The twist essentially comprises a single tweak, but it makes a pretty significant difference to how the game is played.
You’re presented with a very recognisable game board with rows and columns of jewels, and, as before, your task is to match three of them. The difference lies in how those gems are rearranged.
Your cursor now surrounds a two-by-two square of four jewels, and pressing the ‘5’ button rotates those four jewels in a clockwise direction. Aligning a row of three gems takes a bit of work, as it’s not immediately obvious where an easily aligned collection of jewels is to be found.
This is helped to some degree by the fact that you can rotate any four gems - they don’t have to complete an alignment of icons in order for you to be able to move them. That said, the game rewards you if you can match up the jewels in a single button press, rather than rotating them repeatedly to finally make a match.
Along the way you’ll encounter the usual exploding gems (created when four jewels are matched in a single move) or the lightning gems (created by aligning five items) that vaporise everything in the same row and column.
Added to the mix are bomb gems, which need to be removed before the timer counts down to zero; lumps of coal that can only be removed by an explosion; and locked gems that can’t be moved around the game board.
In many respects, Bejeweled Twist feels more like an update than a full sequel, but that's no surprise given the success of the original. The unusual adjustment to the gameplay definitely holds water, however, and it’s very satisfying to finally have a good reason to become addicted to Bejeweled all over again.
You’re not going to be as utterly enamoured as perhaps you were the first time you flipped those jewels and watched them evaporate, but Bejeweled Twist treads familiar ground in some very new shoes, and appeals to the broad spectrum of pocket gamers every bit as much as its grandfather did.