[Review] Bejeweled Blitz Beta Adds Coins, Boosts

As if Bejeweled Blitz, the one-minute version of PopCap’s massively popular jewel-matching game, wasn’t addicting enough, the latest iteration of the Facebook app, currently in beta, adds two new interesting features: coins and boosts.

Bejeweled Blitz can only gets better with the addition of new point-hauling features: coins and boosts. “Just a minute” players will find themselves turning into “Huh? Where did the time go?” addicts of the fan favorite Facebook app.

The idea behind them is that you earn “coins” when you make smart moves in the game, the same way you get special gems that explode other gems to help you up your score. With those coins, you can purchase $3000 “boosts” that can add five seconds onto the end of your game, detonate all special gems on the board, get a free multiplier gem at game’s start, get a mystery power gem at the game’s start, or scramble all the gems on the board. Up to three boosts can be active at one time, and each boost lasts for three rounds of consecutive gameplay.

Players already raking in the points in the hundreds of thousands might find this a way of banking even more points, but average players (such as yours truly) might need to spend another few minutes earning the coin to buy the boosts. And of course, there’s no guarantee that your boost will help you: you’ve still got to be a savvy matchmaker for those shiny gems. The good news is, like the multiplier gems on the board during your Last Hurrah, players can still earn the coins visible on their screen that they didn’t necessarily match up with like-colored gems, earning them the same $100 value of the coins as they would have had they matched them up.

Of the five boosts offered, by far I’d say the best is the one you wouldn’t expect: the Scrambler. Simply by rearranging select gems on the board (in something of a crosshatch pattern), new power gems can emerge immediately, scoring you tons of extra points. The Scrambler lasts for two clicks per round, so it’s almost got double the value of the other boosts. The Detonator and Mystery Power Gem were also useful boosts, but the Multiplier and the +5 Seconds were all but useless to me: I got much higher scores using the other Boosts than I did with those two. Most Boosts, like the Detonator and Scrambler, start out in either the bottom left or right corner of your board, while the Multipliers could be anywhere, as could the Mystery Power Gems. Keep your eyes peeled, because the game doesn’t always do you the courtesy of pointing those special Boosts out for you!

The new beta doesn’t feature a Leaderboard for people to compete with one another while they’re earning coins and boosts yet, but presumably, the Leaderboard will return as soon as the new features are out of beta.

Besides the new features, some more subtle differences can be detected by a player with a well-trained eye–or ear. There are new sound effects not just for the coins, but the various explosions of gems. The visuals seem even smoother than ever, but if you want to enjoy them, first make sure your Flash is up-to-date. The announcer who says “Good” and “Excellent” and so forth sounds a bit different to my ear, but I could be wrong.

Get in on the newest Bejeweled Blitz Beta action by becoming a fan of the app on Facebook, and look for an email from PopCap Games containing the super-secret link.

Survivor: 4/5