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Bejeweled 2 - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Bejeweled 2

WiiWare | PopCap Games | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | 1,000 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote (pointer); Wii Remote and Nunchuk; Wii Remote (sideways); Classic Controller
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14th July 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

So what was your reaction when you first got word that this crazy-addicting game was coming to Wii? Was it one of excitement? Well hopefully, you took the time to read the fine print first? I mean, you did do your homework, right? In case you didn't, allow me to fill you in. The WiiWare release of Bejeweled 2 is practically an unchanged port of the PC Version that's been around for years. But so what if it's a little late to the party, right? I mean, it's still the same game that just about all gamers are well familiar with. Well, whether or not this kind of approach is acceptable ultimately depends on you and your standards.

    To the online community, Bejeweled 2 is well-known for its simple, yet oddly-engrossing, gameplay. It's the ultimate example of the match-three principle that dates back many years into the past, and yet is still very common in modern-day games. You're presented with a grid full of gems of different colours and shapes. The idea is to swap gems that are directly beside each other to make a pairing of 3 or more, causing them to disappear. When this happens, more gems fall from the top of the screen to cover up the empty spaces.

Making groupings using a specific number of shapes will create special gems that produce various special effects. Power Gems, for example, appear when 4 shapes are joined together. When this is then linked to another identical shape, an explosion occurs, resulting in a large portion of the board getting cleared away. Hyper Cubes appear when 5 shapes are chained together. Depending on the gem you try to swap this with, all of the same manifestations of a given shape will then disappear off the board. If you ever find yourself in a jam, you can use the Hint button to be pinpointed to a spot where a move can be made. Exercise caution, as this will cause some of the power in your energy meter to decrease.

    Players have multiple options in the way of how they'd like to play. Using the Wii Remote's pointer is the natural way to play, especially after coming from the PC version. Simply point, hold the A Button on a shape and drag in the desired direction to make a swap. You also have the ability to hold the Wii Remote on its side or use the Classic Controller to move an on-screen cursor. But as nice as these options are, they don't measure up to using the pointer, especially during Action mode.

There are 4 different modes where these mechanics are used to offer players multiple ways to play. In Classic Mode, each link you make fills up the gauge on the right of the screen. Once the gauge is full, you'll warp to a new planet and have your gems shuffled around for a new board. A Game Over results when you make a swap that results in there being no more moves left to execute. Endless Mode is the same way to play except that you'll never run out of moves to make or have to keep an eye on a timer. On that note, the most gripping mode of them all is definitely Action mode. Just like in the other two modes, every link made adds to the gauge on the right. However, periods where the player is lingering will cause the gauge to decrease gradually, like a countdown timer. Play continues until time runs out completely. 

    And lastly, in Puzzle mode, you act more strategically and think ahead to try to clear the grid of all gems without having any leftover. There are 16 planets that you can travel to by means of the Galaxy Map, and each of them contain 5 puzzle stages to solve. Before you can warp to new planets and stages, you'll need to complete 4 out of the 5 puzzles on each planet to advance. These are fun to play and they force the player to take their time and think more cautiously. Unfortunately, besides a reduced score, there's nothing stopping you from using the Hint button repeatedly to figure out how to solve a level. So although this may lower the potential amount of frustration, this sometimes-tempting function can make this easy to plow through.

The graphics look great on the television with no issues whatsoever. The framerate is always consistent, the gems look great, and the backgrounds are nice too. The animation that takes place when you warp to a new level is especially nice to look at. I've always been a fan of the Space theme that the developers applied to this franchise. And this extends also to the in-game music which sounds very fitting, even relaxing in some cases. Mii support has also been included in this release, and they look good. The facial expressions of your character correspond to both positive and negative performance over the course of a round. It's a nice touch, but I doubt a lot of people will think twice about the usefulness of this feature.

    Bejeweled 2 supports Global Leaderboards whereby players can compare their scores in two of the game modes to everyone else's achivements around the world. Unfortunately, having them limited to only the top 10 best scores doesn't offer as much encouragement as it could by showing a few positions above and below your current score. In addition, there are a few personal statistics that you can try to improve, such as the number of puzzles you've solved, and the cumulative number of gems you've collected.

    I think the biggest issue that plagues this release is the value itself. To be honest, I don't blame you if you think 1,000 Points is too much for this game because it really is. Not just considering the other games on WiiWare that are offered at the same price, but the fact, too, that this game is available elsewhere for cheaper, making Bejeweled 2 its own worst enemy. And rather than just sticking with a straight port, it would've been nice if the developers took advantage of this platform by offering an exclusive mode of some sort. In particular, a split-screen battle mode would have been a great way to increase the appeal of this package. It's a shame this potential was wasted.

The thing is, this game quickly climbed to the #1 spot on the WiiWare charts in Canada for its popularity. In fact, it's still in the Top 10 and I don't doubt that the same case is also true in the US. So clearly, although there was some potential to make this a stronger release, its existance is justified, even if it is a port. It's still a fun game in spite of its flaws, and the relaxing nature makes it a worthy consideration when compared with other low-stress titles on the service. But I still say that $10 is too much to pay for this, unless you're a huge fan. If this release appeals to you but you want something more multiplayer-focused, check out Big Kahuna Party. Now that they've seen the kind of market that exists on this digital platform, I sincerely hope that PopCap moves forward with more innovation as they approach future WiiWare (and even DSiWare) titles.

23/30 - Good

Gameplay 8/10 - Makes use of a simple mechanic with some slight variation in the form of special gems, can really lose yourself rather easily
Presentation 8/10 - Fluid, no framerate issues, great visuals along with a unifying theme, music is soothing
Enjoyment 4/5 - The level of fun and addictiveness doesn't lose its luster when playing on the Wii, repetitive but also oddly relaxing
Extra Content 3/5 - Mii support, online leaderboards, lots of puzzles to complete, the developers could've taken things one step further

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8
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