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In-Depth Review

Bejeweled 2 for iPhone

The story leading up to this review of Bejeweled 2 is one of those good news/bad news things...

Good news: In July 2007 the good news was an iPhone game called Diamenty, a free "match three jewels in a row" game played using your iPhone's Web browser. I liked it a lot and called it, "addictive, fun, and free."

Bad news: Then, a month later I reported the bad news -- that Diamenty was no longer available and its URL now displayed this announcement:

In my review of Diamenty I said, "if you've ever played Bejeweled (Mac & PC) you know exactly how Diamenty works," which basically meant that Diamenty was a note-for-note rip-off of PopCap Games' Bejeweled. I also said, just between us chickens, that I suspected that PopCap Games lawyers delivered this Great News to Arkadiusz but who knows...

Good news: The good news (or great news if you believe Arkadiusz) at that time was that PopCap Games was offering an "official" version of Bejeweled for the iPhone and it was prettier than Diamenty, more fun to play, and absolutely free with no advertising.

Good news: PopCap Games recently released a native iPhone application version of Bejeweled 2 that's a whole lot better than the PopCap Web version (which is still available at www.popcap.com and still free) and several magnitudes better than Diamenty ever was.

Bad news: The iPhone application version isn't free.

Bad news: The retail price of Bejeweled 2 is $9.99, a price many users (myself included) consider outrageous.

Good news: It's currently on sale for a limited time for just $2.99, which is a darn good deal if you ask me.

Enough of that good news/bad news stuff already. Now, here's my review...

Bejeweled is the original "match three gems in a row" game. The premise -- click any two gems to swap their positions; match three or more gems in a row vertically or horizontally to remove them from the screen and score points.

For what it's worth, there are application versions of Bejeweled and/or Bejeweled 2 for the Mac, the PC, several brands of smart phones including our beloved iPhone, and the iPod. There's also (still) a free-to-play sponsored version of the original version on the Web:

(click here to play it now)

Bejeweled 2 is a great sequel. It adds new wrinkles to what was already an incredibly enjoyable game without detracting from what made it so enjoyable in the first place.

The biggest change is that there are two new classes of gems: Power Gems and Hyper Cubes. Power Gems twinkle and Hyper Cubes have a rainbow effect so they're easily identified as shown here:

When you match four gems in a row, those four gems are removed and replaced with a single Power Gem. Match that Power Gem with three or more gems in a row and you create an explosion that removes all nearby gems regardless of color or shape and scoring major points. If you're able to match five gems in a row, a Hyper Cube gem appears. Swap a Hyper Cube gem and all gems like the one you swapped it with disappear from the screen, causing a major downward cascade of gems and scoring many more points than even a Power Gem explosion. In this screen shot I just swapped a Hyper Cube with a green gem, so all the green gems are disappearing and racking up my score.

There are three playing modes. Classic, Action, and Endless. In Classic mode you play until there are no more swaps left for you to make, regardless of how long it takes. In Action mode there's a timer for each level and the more points you score the more time you get to complete the level. And in Endless mode you (apparently) never run out of swaps.

The game can be played in your choice of landscape or portrait mode and you can choose to listen to the game sountrack music, your own iPod music, or no music at all.

There's only one thing wrong with this game -- it burns through your iPhone's battery like nothing else. I started with an almost-full battery and received the 20% low battery warning after less than an hour. Many games drain your battery but I can't recall any that drain it as quickly as this one.

One last thing: You can read my original 2007 Bejeweled (Web version) review here and Diamenty (R.I.P.) review here.

The Bottom Line

In spite of it draining my iPhone battery at an alarming rate, Bejeweled 2 is among the most addictive iPhone games I've tested. I particularly enjoy the Action mode and find myself playing "just one more game," over and over again in a usually futile attempt to beat my highest score (currently 298,600).

Just The Facts

Bejeweled 2 for iPhone from PopCap Games

MSRP US$2.99/$9.99

Pros:Addictive, fun, sequel improves on original.

Cons:Devours batteries, expensive when not on sale.

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