Posted by Marie Brewis 09 May 2013
Bejeweled Blitz review - the daddy of match-three puzzlers comes to Android
Well, it's about time. Prior to the launch of Facebook's App Centre, Bejeweled Blitz was one of the first games to hit it off with Facebookers. It quickly made its way to iOS as a mobile app for the iPhone and iPad, but we've been waiting years for this match-three puzzle game to come to Android. See Best Android Apps.
Bejeweled Blitz, designed by PopCap and now owned by EA, is technically playable on older Android tablets and smartphones with native support for Adobe Flash (provided that you access the desktop version of Facebook), but playing the game this way is painfully slow. You have no chance whatsoever of hitting a score that'll place anywhere near the top of the leaderboard. See How to add Flash to Android Jelly Bean.
By comparison, the mobile app is fast, fluid and smooth, with performance that's no longer dependant on a flaky cellular connection. Plus it syncs with the online game, making Bejeweled Blitz on Android a joy to play.
Alas, Bejeweled Blitz for Android lacks some functionality in comparison to the full-fat online version. There are no Keystone Challenges, for a start, limiting your ability to collect extra coins, Xp points, tokens and rare gem bonuses; nor can you compete in Blitz Parties against friends or send them coin gifts.
Connect the mobile app to your Facebook account, however, and the Weekly Tournament leaderboard makes the transition. This allows you to check your opponents' performance stats, including their achievement stars, and battle it out to scoop the high score, which resets every Tuesday. Pleasingly, connecting the app to our Facebook account didn't result in a stream of comments posted in the News Feed on our behalf.
The Daily Spin is also here, a one-arm-bandit style gem machine that offers a guaranteed win of between 500 and 1,000,000 coins once per day. Spin it five times in one week and you get a free rare gem bonus. You also get 100 coins for each multiplier or coin gem that you match, or you can swap some real cash - but that's absolutely not necessary.
Coins can be used to buy Boosts, which are identical to those found in the Facebook version of Bejeweled Blitz: for 6,000 coins you can place a mystery gem on the board at the beginning of the game; 3,000 coins buys you a one-time detonator for your special gems; 4,000 coins enables you to scramble the gems twice per game; 4,500 coins lets you add five seconds to the 60-second time limit; and 7,500 coins places a multiplier gem on the board at the beginning of the game.
Another way you can spend these coins is on rare gems. Several exist, for example Cat's Eye, Moonstone, Phoenix Prism and Blazing Steed, all of which provide some sort of score boost either during or at the end of your game. But they're expensive - sometimes up to 75,000 coins.
Without access to the Message Center you are unable to access the rare gems you have collected via Keystone rewards in the desktop version of Bejeweled Blitz, but you do at least get offered a rare gem streak discount that allows you to buy the same gem at a cheaper price for use in the next game. Rare gems are randomly offered at the beginning of a game; for the best scores, use them in conjunction with three Boosts.
One thing we've missed in similar match-three puzzlers such as Jewels is the ability to gain bonuses from matching four or more gems. This is partly why we found Candy Crush Saga particularly attractive, although we don't like the way that game forces you to either pay up or wait a certain amount of time once you've run out of lives.
As with the full version of Bejeweled Blitz, matching four gems in the Android app creates a Flame gem, which goes of with a big bang when matched; five-gem corner matches create a Star gem, which destroys all gems that lie both vertically and horizontally in line with it; and five-gem straight matches create a Hypercube, which removes from the board all gems of a particular colour. The quicker you match gems the more you fill the Speed meter; once filled, for a few seconds you enter Blazing Steed mode and all matches are equivalent to Flame gem matches.
You don't need to have an active internet connection to play Bejeweled Blitz, although one is required to connect to Facebook. Offline, you compete against Bejeweled characters such as Lex, Teeny Phoenix, Otis and Bjorn.
Bejeweled for Android: Verdict
Bejeweled Blitz is the daddy of match-three puzzlers, and its transition to Android is long overdue. A few of the game's features are missing, but all the important stuff is here. Facebook integration with a Weekly Leaderboard keeps you coming back for more, and there's absolutely no need to spend a penny on getting to the top.
REQUIRES: Android 2.3.3 or later; 40MB storage
9/10 - RECOMMENDED