Casual Game Review

'Bejeweled Twist': A New Version of the Classic Casual Game

The best-selling puzzle game of all time gets a long-overdue update. Plus:'World of Goo'

Bejeweled Twist | Bejeweled Twist The updated game offers more combinations and deeper strategy
Bejeweled Twist The updated game offers more combinations and deeper strategy

Casual games: 'Bejeweled Twist,' 'Goo'

BEJEWELED TWIST
(PopCap Games; PC)

Bejeweled is the Gone With the Wind of the casual-game world — the most commercially successful and influential puzzle program in the genre's short history. Since its release in 2000, more than 350 million copies have been downloaded (with another 75 million units on mobile platforms) and its "match 3" game mechanics have been copied countless times. No wonder the long-awaited Bejeweled Twist comes with such high expectations.

Does it live up to them? Kinda. The big change in Twist is that instead of swapping adjacent tiles to make a match of three identical gems, you rotate a group of four (a two-by-two grid) to create a set. Completing strings of four and five come with added bonuses (flame gems and lightning gems, respectively), and obstacles such as bombs and lumps of coal eventually rain down to hinder your progress. The twist mechanic doesn't feel all that revolutionary, which is why the early rounds seem like the same old Bejeweled. But oddly enough, the more you play, the fresher it feels. Unlike the original, the version doesn't require you to make a match with every move — meaning the depth of strategy grows as you set up increasingly more complicated cascades and combinations. And it quickly becomes clear that there's more than one path to success — which may be just the twist needed for a familiar franchise.

WHAT WE LIKE:
Easy to master mechanics
More strategic freedom
Highly satisfying bonus animations

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE:
Core gameplay is same old, same old
Can't restart from the last level when a game ends

GRADE: B+

WORLD OF GOO
(2D Boy; PC and Nintendo Wii)

A whimsical physics-based construction game for the PC (also available on Nintendo's downloadable WiiWare service), World challenges you to take semi-animate blobs of goo and connect them to build bridges, towers, and other constructs in order to reach various goals. As you'd expect, the goo structures are wobbly at best, making it a challenge to build anything stable, much less predictable. The gameplay is entertaining, but it's the production values that astound: The charming animations and Danny Elfman-esque soundtrack make the whole experience feel more like a big-budget Tim Burton feature rather than an independently developed casual game. After just a few levels, you'll find yourself stuck on Goo.

WHAT WE LIKE:
Simple and intuitive controls
Open-ended puzzle paths allow for wildly creative solutions
Beautiful graphics and enchanting atmosphere

WHAT WE DON'T LIKE:
Hard to corral some goo balls on speed-intensive levels

GRADE: A-

Originally posted Nov 07, 2008