As we are all aware, the iPhone goes far beyond being just a cellphone. Now that the 2.0 firmware has been released, the App Store is churning out all kinds of handy software, including games. Bejeweled 2 is one of the first games released for the iPhone and is a great example of the simple and captivating gameplay possible on this multimedia device.
The objective of Bejeweled is to swap position with surrounding jewels to create rows or columns of three or more identical colors. There are two gameplay options: Classic and Action. Classic has no time limit and advances you through subsequent levels after clearing a certain amount of jewels. There is a hint option that can show you an available jewel to swap if you get stumped. There is no penalty for using the Hint in this mode. Action is a more fast-paced mode which involves a time bar which decreases faster each level. In this mode, using the Hint chops off some time.
At any point, due to poor planning, you can run out of moves. This prompts a jarring shake of all the pieces on the board and the ominous message “NO MORE MOVES” to display before giving the stats of the game including points, highest combos, and time played.
Bejeweled 2 displays very crisp graphics and decent audio. The backdrop of the game includes various otherworldly landscapes and the animation is smooth with vibrant colors. The ’level up’ sequence in particular is a great example of what the iPhone can do graphically, showing the entire game board being swallowed by a multi-colored vortex. The music and sounds are clear and their individual levels can be controlled in the Options screen.
The game loads fairly quickly and shows minimal slowdown when other processes (i.e. receiving mail) happen in the background. In most cases, the game can be paused and resumed later, however sometimes it did not save the session properly and I had to start a new game.
Overall, this is a great introduction to playing games on the iPhone and proves a quality gaming experience is possible on this device. It does, however draw on the battery life a bit. Frequent players of this game will find themselves charging up quite a bit, but that is to be expected on this device. I’ve had a hard time putting the game down long enough to write this review, as the gameplay can be highly addictive and the concept is simple enough to grasp, but can be highly involved. The only feature that could add to the experience would be the option to upload and view scores with other players. The cost of $10 may be a bit steep for some, but the quality and endless replay value makes it worth the money. Also, as someone who does not enjoy games on small screens, I found it very easy to play and not an eye strain. The iPhone may become a viable gaming platform, and judging by the success of downloadable content (free and otherwise) on platforms such as iTunes and Xbox Live, we can expect a steady stream of games released by known developers.