Bejeweled 3 brings us the same great Match-3 action we’re used to, but adds in a variety of modes. Sure, Bejeweled is fun, we’ve all played it and own at least one version of it somewhere, and we can play it for free on Facebook and such. Is Bejeweled 3 worth the time and the $19.99?

(This game is currently available for PC & Mac. This game was played by me on a MacBook Pro running OSX 10.6.5 with 4GB Ram and a NVIDIA GeForce 9600M GT card. This game was purchased via Steam.)

Bejeweled 3’s biggest addition are new modes and also a quest mode, which encompasses multiple tasks required in order to gain relics and complete the item at hand, be it a book or potion bottle. Traditional modes like Classic, Zen and Lightning are still here thankfully, but the Quest Mode and other new modes are what make Bejeweled 3 a real joy to play.

Poker

Poker Face not required... nor is the Gaga track.

Poker is a fun/strategic way of matching gems. You’ll earn points by creating Poker-like hands with matching gems (from a Pair to a Flush), and you can earn bonus points by linking 4 or 5 gems of the same color together. At some point in the game, it forces you to draw a hand greater than a pair or Spectrum (5 separate gem colors), ¬†and really adds on that, “grah… what gem do I move” thought process. If you get a pair when it’s got a skull next to it, much like Peggle’s Air Ball roulette, the game randomly decides if you’re still safe or if your game is over. Luckily, getting flushes/4-of-a-kinds/etc. to fill a scoring meter can help make your cheaper hands safe again. I really enjoy Poker and it’s a favorite mode of mine. It’s one of Bejeweled’s 2 strategic modes that allows you to sit back and ponder your next move.

Ice Storm

Don't let your gems get frostbite.

Ice Storm is a pretty hardcore mode in which frozen ice will build up from the bottom to the top of the playing board. Getting horizontal combos helps, but it’s most beneficial to make vertical combos to break the ice back down. When you start, the ice blocks cover two columns, and as you progress forward, it splits off into each column, forcing you to work quicker on combos. If the ice reaches the top and layers itself, the board will freeze and the game will be over. It’s a pretty hardcore mode that adds a layer of challenge to those that love the Lightning mode.

Butterflies

That poor yellow butterfly is in trouble. How to save it...

Butterflies deals with butterflies travelling from the bottom of the board to the top where a spider sits. They come in different colors, so it’s up to you to match them up and save them before they hit the top. It’s pretty straightforward, but can be overwhelming when you see about 10 butterflies on your board. Luckily, explosions and such can help get rid of the butterflies, and making moves below them can either keep them in place or knock them down a few more rows.

Diamond Mine

Dig for gold with explosive/electric gems.

Diamond Mine is an adventure-like mode where you must collect the gold pieces near the bottom of the board before advancing to the next segment. The goal is to make your matches at the bottom, where your moves will be able to dig into the surface. This mode is timed, which adds to the intensity of trying to get things to the bottom, and also makes it fun since the gameplay is continuous without breaking to switch to a new level.

Quest

Quest provides a fun mix of challenges for 40 levels.

Quest Mode includes specific challenges from the previously mentioned modes and tosses in some other mini-games with their own stipulations. Modes such as Balance (matching red and blue gems affects weight distribution on the sides of the playing board), Gold Mine (turn the entire board to Gold), and Sandstorm (uncover 3 treasures while sand can refill previously broken blocks) are really enjoyable to the point I wish they had a dedicated mode for itself.

Leaderboards are only local, so you can either be disappointed or glad that you don’t have to see someone who is just incredibly better than you at the top; Badges are the game’s achievement system and can be awarded from bronze to gold rank; Stats are detailed about how you play, even down to what your favorite color gem is (mine happens to be Red). It would be nice if there was some form of connectivity with Facebook and Twitter to share high scores, or even compare scores that you and other friends have. The previous version of Bejeweled Blitz had Facebook connectivity, so let’s hope it comes at some point on a future version of the game.

Bejeweled is another gem (pun intended) from PopCap games. I’m sure the development process had a bunch of game modes, and Bejeweled 3 included some really fun and challenging game types. It combines lightning quick reflexes (Ice Storm) and strategic thought process (Poker) to really give the game variety and really encourage players to explore these new ways to play Match-3. It’s a great game to play while you have iTunes listening to a podcast like, ya know, the Anivision Podcast. There isn’t any official word of release on other systems, but let’s hope it will go mobile at some point in 2011.