Bejeweled (Board Game)
I never thought I’d see a match-3 game appear in board game form…but lo and behold, I saw “Bejeweled” sitting there on Kmart’s board game shelf. I must admit that I had my reservations…most board game adaptations of video games and vice versa usually don’t fare well for one reason or another. I’m personally not someone who is into match-3 games, though I do take exception to games like “Puzzle Quest” that implement similar mechanics but are a bit more involved. Jen, on the other hand, loves her some match-3 games. I quickly scoped out the price tag of fifteen bucks and figured, why not?
Gems – The game comes with eighty-four regular gems and seven sparkly power gems. These plastic gems are attached to a flat base.
Bag – A Bejeweled bag is used as a draw bag of sorts during the game. The below pictures don’t include this bag, as my copy, for whatever reason, didn’t come with one.
Coins – These plastic coins match the colors of the gems and are used to track a player’s score.
Game Tray – The game tray serves as the main playing area and contains the gems in play via an 8×8 grid.
Setup & Gameplay
First, the board is seeded with sixty-four gems in a random fashion, though it’s important that none of these be power gems. Once this is done, the leftover gems go into the bag. The chips are placed off to the side within easy reach of players. The starting player is chosen randomly.
On a player’s turn, they will attempt to swap two adjacent gem pieces on the board in order to match three, four, or five gems in a row (horizontally or vertically). A move is not legal unless a match is made.
A few things occur when a match is made:
1) The matching gems are removed from the tray and placed off to the side.
2) The player pushes the appropriate gems on the tray forward (away from them) to fill the empty spaces. This should leave some empty spaces toward the edge of the playing area.
3) Gems are drawn from the bag to replace the empty spaces.
4) The gems that were matched are placed back into the bag.
5) The player receives one, two, or three coins of the color that were matched. Matching three gems earns the player one coin, four gems earns two coins, and five gems earns three coins. Power gems award the player with an extra coin.
If a match can’t be made on a player’s turn, they’ll instead replace the four gems in the center of the tray. If a match results from this, they earn coins appropriately. The first player to score three sets of coins (a set being three coins of the same color) wins the game!
Firstly, I must commend the game for having some pretty eye-catching components…namely the gems. In all honesty however, that’s where my accolades end as far as the components are concerned. The box, in my opinion, is poorly shaped and made. My game did not come with a bag, though this may have been the fault of Kmart as my copy may have been a return. The gems and chips came in non-zip baggies that did not function well at all as storage devices. I opted to use a large zip baggie for the gems and a small zip baggie for the chips. The game is certainly pretty enough, but the quality of the components and storage devices leave much to be desired.
Setting up the game can be problematic, as you’ll have to ensure there are matches available from the get go in order for play to go smoothly. Gameplay is a bit more streamlined, but can be a bit random. Since players are pushing gems away from them to fill slots, it can be hard to predict how the board may end up by the time your turn rolls around again. When I play match-3 games on the PC, I at least have some control over the board and can set up chains appropriately. The rules themselves could use more work and be a bit clearer, especially when players can’t make a match. For example, I personally don’t think it’s fair to replace the four center gems randomly and then not be able to move to make a match, if one existed. Luckily, we had the ability to play how we wanted since the game seemed flexible enough to allow it.
Overall, I could only really recommend “Bejeweled” to families who like casual games. It’s hard to develop any sort of strategy in this game as you never know what your opponents will do on their turn. I liked how flashy the pieces were, but disliked the way they were packaged. It’s almost like the developers put all of their money into making the gems look good but ran out when it came time to produce everything else. The lack of a bag in my copy rubbed me the wrong way, though it’s hard to hold the developer accountable considering that I’ve had bad experiences with said retailer in the past. To sum this up…”Bejeweled” isn’t bad, but I’ve seen better. The game came with an exclusive download code for “Bejeweled 3” on the PC which was worth $19.99 on Pop Cap’s site, so I suppose the purchase was worth it in a round-about way. On the other hand, the code itself is good for one download only and expires 12/31/13. Really? One download? Try harder Pop Cap…
Final Verdict: 5/10