Bejeweled is one of the best casual games ever created. Really, if you haven't played it online or on mobile, you should have a go as soon as you finish reading this review. It's very simple – swap adjacent jewels to make lines of three or more – and fearsomely addictive. You'll love it.
What you shouldn't do after reading this review is buy the iPod version.
While Bejeweled has made it to iPod intact, the controls are so wildly unsuited to the game that you're left with an experience that's just frustrating, particularly if you've enjoyed the game on other platforms.
See, Bejeweled is all about moving a cursor round the screen fast, selecting jewels and swapping them around to make lines. These then disappear, leaving more gems to fall onto the screen from the top, possibly creating combos – more lines of three or more – that in turn disappear.
It's a little hard to explain, but takes seconds to grasp when you play it. Three in a row scores you 10 points, but four or five in a row score 20 and 30 points respectively, with points then doubling or even tripling for combos. There's also a handy hint mode, which points out a possible swap if you're stuck, and delays proceedings for a few seconds.
You're playing against a time limit, and here's where the problem begins. Bejeweled requires you to move around the screen quickly and accurately. Yet in the iPod version, you move the cursor with the iPod's scrollwheel, which only lets you move right and left. In other words, to get from the top left gem on the screen to the bottom right involves moving through every single other gem, row by row.
Speed isn't so much a problem, as the cursor moves fast. But accuracy suffers, as you'll need hair-trigger control of the wheel to end up on the jewel you want without a bit of jiggling about. On early levels this isn't a problem in terms of the gameplay, but as time levels diminish, it gets increasingly annoying.
So, on one hand, iPod Bejeweled is a decent conversion. It looks right, it sounds good, and there's some impressive between-level transitions showing the iPod's hi-res screen at its best. And the game itself has made it across intact, with Classic Mode (no timer, you play until there's no valid move left) and Action Mode (with time limits).
But that fact is it simply doesn't suit the device. Bejeweled may be a justifiably famous name on other gaming platforms, but it seems daft to bring it to iPod when it clearly doesn't work well with the controls available.