Games for mobile devices come in a wide range of styles. While many are effective ‘ports’ (or copies) from more mainstream gaming platforms, shrunken down to match small screens, lots are invented especially for PDAs and feature gameplay elements and features which really make the most of what small devices have to offer.
Bejeweled 2 is one such game. Built specifically for Pocket PCs and PalmOS PDAs, this impressive game features outstanding gameplay, beautiful graphics and guaranteed stability, even on slower devices. The object of Bejeweled 2 is simple. Swap neighboring jewels to create lines of three which are then eliminated, only to be replaced by the jewels above them. Wisely avoiding a complex gameplay style, all operations are performed with the stylus (a far better control method than the joystick on Pocket PCs).
When you start a game of Bejeweled 2, you’re given brief instructions and reminders for how to obtain your goal. If you’re stuck and can’t find any jewels to swap, Bejeweled 2 will notice and after several seconds of inactivity it gives you a small prompt as to which jewel you should try swapping. This feature is perfect for beginners and can be easily switched off from the main menu.
Bejeweled 2 offers four distinct game modes, each of which is playable in the excellent trial version we used for this review. ‘Classic’ and ‘Action’ modes are similar, except that ‘Action’ play includes a dynamic time-bar which you have to keep from running out. ‘Puzzle’ mode offers a series of increasingly difficult set-piece puzzles which you have to complete in order to unlock higher levels. ‘Endless’ mode is, as the name eloquently suggests, Bejeweled 2 without end: with no target or time limit, this is perfect for players who are looking for a couple of minutes’ game time. Bejeweled 2 also features a screensaver which can be set to display a series of the stunning game backgrounds, along with time and battery data.
While Bejeweled 2’s gameplay is excellent, its graphics are the key to what makes this game really enjoyable. From the already mentioned background images to special effects on individual jewels, Bejeweled 2 has been designed to constantly impress. Rich sound effects and a tuneful soundtrack make the experience complete. Graphics, sound and music can all be controlled from the Options menu, but we found that the more intensive settings didn’t cause any problems on slower test devices.
Bejeweled 2 is, if you like, that rare gem of PDA games. Original, stylishly designed, easy to pick up and highly addictive, it will enchant beginners and keep more experienced players entertained for weeks and months. If you have one game on your Pocket PC, let it be Bejeweled 2!