Twist and shout!
The following is a simple test you can use to judge how good a casual game is. It may even work for other games as well. In fact, you may want to print this test out, fold it up, and keep it in your wallet next to that fortune you got when you had Chinese on your birthday last year. Think of the pair as your own personal compass and sextant, guiding you through the choppy sea that is life. Or not. Maybe it's just good for casual games. Either way, it's the test I used to rate Bejeweled Twist:
[image1]1. This game was so good that I:
a) played until the batteries ran out, or
b) sat on the floor by the outlet next to the litter box in order to keep playing.
2. The finger discomfort I felt the day after I got this game:
a) gave me trouble with the doorknob as I left for work, or
b) was just tolerable enough that I could use my phone to call in sick so I could get in eight more hours of play.
3. This game had me so engaged in the waiting room of my doctor's office that I:
a) was pleasantly surprised by the staff's efficiency when my name was finally called, or
b) asked if the nice lady wearing the surgical mask and holding sick twins could go ahead of me when my name was finally called.
4. The level of annoyance I felt toward my significant other while playing caused me to:
a) answer all his/her questions with a grunt, or
b) bury the stylus deep in his/her arm when he/she asked me where the oatmeal was.
[image2]Even a casual game that gets an 'a' for every question is a keeper. And honestly, a 'b' answer to any of these might point to an underlying deviancy that is no fault of the game's... please put down the stylus and step away from the game. As for Bejeweled Twist, I answered 'a' to most of these questions. And as for one of the others, well, my boyfriend says his puncture wound doesn't hurt nearly as much as he thought it would. At least that's what I think he says. He slurs his words lately.
If you've played Bejeweled in any of its incarnations, you'll be able to pick up Bejeweled Twist and start playing pretty much immediately. The goal, as always, is to line up three gems in a row (although lining up four or more is when the magic happens). The 'twist' with this title is in how the gems are moved. You tap the screen once to select the circle of gems you want to move, then tap again to twist them into place. The circles you create can only move in a clockwise direction, so the trick with Bejeweled Twist is to select your circles so that you achieve gem matches in a minimum of moves.
The title is a little deceptive in that no twisting motion, which would have been totally possible to do with the DS stylus, is actually used by the player. In fact, if any shortcomings can be found in the single-player mode, the stylus could have been used more effectively, with the ability to twist to the left as well as the right. This is a minor, though, and much of the strategy of the game comes from the limitations from only being able to twist in one direction, so don't let that deter you.
[image3]Four modes of play are unlocked as play progresses. All of them will let you flex your pattern-recognition muscles. First you get Classic mode, where you have to clear exploding gems before time runs out. Then comes Zen, where you can improve your strategy in endless play. Challenge mode is next, where 13 different puzzles are presented. You have to do things like clear 15 gems in a single move, or keep 20 red gems on the screen. Finally, you get Blitz mode, where you compete to get the most points in five minutes.
The four modes offer something for every type of player, from the puzzle-phile to the time-commitment-phobe to the all-out speed freak. As with any engaging casual game, you'll pick up the DS to play for what seems like five or ten minutes, only to look up at the clock and realize hours have gone by. With multiple levels for every mode and challenge, you'll get a lot of play out of this title, and you'll have fun doing it.
Two-player mode is a disappointment because both players need to have the game. It will be a rare day indeed when the guy sitting next to you on the bus or in the waiting room also has a copy and is willing to play with a total stranger.
But it could happen, I suppose. Check your wallet! Maybe you fortune has just come true. In any case, Bejeweled Twist is a neat pick-up-and-play variation on Bejeweled and a solid entry for the franchise.