Turning the traditionally solitary match-3 experience into a competitive social game was a stroke of genius that only PopCap could perfect. Little touches like achievements and tournaments provide a decent incentive to keep playing, but seeing where you sit on your friends leaderboard is the perfect carrot on a stick. It's next to impossible to walk away before your high score knocks a friend down a ranking, and when it does you're going to love breaking out the smack talk.
Veterans of Bejeweled 2 will feel right at home with Bejeweled Blitz, as the fundamentals of gameplay seem to be borrowed from the sequel to the original classic. Like all version of Bejeweled (with the exception of Bejeweled Twist), the object of the game is to swap gems vertically and horizontally in an attempt to match 3 or more. Like Bejeweled 2 though, Blitz is super-charged with the addition of power gems and hypercubes. Power gems are created when you match 4, and explode when used in a match of their own. Hypercubes are the result of a match-5 and will destroy every gem of a certain color on the board (depending on which gem you switch it with). But in terms of it's predecessors, that's where Bejeweled Blitz's similarities end.
Rather than offering all of the bells and whistles and play modes that full versions of Bejeweled offer, Blitz has been stripped down for simplicity's sake to offer a streamlined social experience. Don't expect to find a variety of puzzle or endless modes here — you're going to get one game and one game only. In a social setting like Facebook though, that's all you'll want or need. Competing for a high score against your friends under a tight one minute timer provides the ultimate social Bejeweled rush. You'll be clicking “play again” more often than you'll blink.
As you play, your friends leaderboard will appear on the right side of the playing field. Don't think you're going crazy — it really is taunting you. Moving up that leaderboard can be just as addictive an experience as Bejeweled itself. You'll also be able to view your friends score stats over the past few months and compare them to your own. For competition junkies like me, it's a wonderful inclusion. This game caters to the bad sportsman in all of us too, as a “smack talk” feature will let you send messages to your friends and put them in their place. The default message is silly and taunting, but you can change it to anything you like and accompany it with a rude-faced gem to complete the humiliation. It's little touches like this that, while playfully mean-spirited, really help to round out the social experience.
Bejeweled Blitz is available exclusively on Facebook as much of the game relies on the social aspect provided by your Facebook friends list. If you're already on Facebook and you're not playing this, you'd better get started. This is the same Bejeweled you know and love but with an excellent social twist. Chances are your friends are seasoned vets by now, so you'd better start working your way through those ranks!