Gone in 60 seconds.
Bejeweled is a craze. People will drop what they're doing and go line up gems on their computer screens for hours if you let them. It'll probably be the sole reason for an alien invasion in a few years. We'll be too busy racking up high scores to bother fighting back. Popcap knows they got a winning formula on their hands and have decided to release yet another game in the already long running XBLA catalog of Bejeweled and other match-3 titles: Bejeweled Blitz Live.
[image1]Blitz Live is the second Bejeweled game on XBLA and probably won't be the last jewel-matching game on it either. We've had the classic Bejeweled 2 and countless color-combining games on this particular marketplace, so is there anything to set Bejeweled Blitz Live apart from the rest? Frankly, there's very little.
The core concept in Blitz Live is to be fast. You're given a minute to rack up the highest score possible by dropping gems and comboing more than three of the same color horizontally or vertically in a board filled with precious gems. Once this combo occurs, more colors drop and so it goes 'til time runs out. Obviously, there's some more depth to the game but it usually depends a lot on your random luck in regards to the draw of gems. By combining more than three gems, the next gem of the same color to drop will contain explosive properties that can help you clear more of the board if you combine it in time.
There are two basic gameplay modes to be found in this particular version of Bejeweled. Classic doesn't beat around the bush; it's the well-known Bejeweled you've probably played before, now mapped to the Xbox 360 controller. Each face button swaps gems based on their cardinal direction from the center of the face button pad (think north, south, east, and west). This button layout is sometimes confusing thanks to the quick pace of the game, but it's more of a matter of getting used to it than anything else.
[image2]Twist is the second mode which works about the same way as classic in terms of scoring. Instead of swapping neighboring gems, though, Twist has you rotating a block of four gems a-la Hexic in order to get your combos working. The face buttons rotate the group of gems in a different orientation and like in Classic, things are a bit confusing at first and take a while to get accustomed to.
Both of Blitz Live's modes can be taken online. Thankfully, Popcap has gone an extra step instead of just slapping on a quick head-to-head Bejeweled game online. Along with the usual one-on-one mode, there's a Party mode, where a certain number of players compete against each other in a race. The gist of this race is that it goes on indefinitely. The longer you stay near the top of the pack, the more points you can accumulate with each 60-second game you spend on the gem board. This mode is particularly enjoyable if you got some friends with you, but it works well if you're just randomly jumping on too.
Too bad there's only so much you can do with Bejeweled Blitz Live. Other than multiplayer, there aren't a whole lot of features we haven't seen before in other iterations of the series or even for free in Flash games online. Granted, the easily addictive Classic and Twist modes are enough to keep going, but there's very little that sets this apart from the crowded puzzle pack.
[image3]Online modes aside, this would have benefited from other single-player options, not to mention the random nature of the gameplay that this particular Bejeweled serves up. The time limit mechanic doesn't cater to skill enough, and for the most part, it plays like a slot machine in a gem-swapping skin.
If you're looking for a colorful puzzle game, the catalogue is already extensive and Bejeweled Blitz Live does little to set itself apart. Even with multiplayer modes that are mostly fun and the constant leaderboard competition to be had with friends and strangers online, Blitz is pretty much the same game you can play for cheap (or free) elsewhere, except with a new coat of paint and a heftier price tag.