Sunday, 22 May 2011

It Cheats

I love Bejewelled. It’s great. I'm stepping away from ARGO for a moment because well, I play other games too. I’m not a huge Social gamer – as in gaming on Social Networks – but I enjoy playing a good game regardless of where it is. And Bejewelled is a good game in the very least.

Surprisingly, this is the first time that I have actually played the game. I never played it on a Mobile platform, the very platform that made it popular as far as I am aware. Perhaps I’m missing out, it may very well be the core version, one that allows the game to be played in the way that it is intended. If this is the case, then at some point I surely must give this a go.

When I say first time, I don’t mean ever. I have been playing it for some time now, a few months or so. Its entertainment value hasn’t dipped in this time. This may partially be due to how Pop-Cap has added a timer. It creates a goal with its limitation. It’s an excellent way to add challenge, but one that is finding its place in fewer games now days. This is partially due to the fact that a lot of high profile games are built in a different way. The challenge is not related to the time. It’s not needed.

This isn’t the first time I have played this type of Puzzle game. I was and am a big fan of Puzzle Quest which I played on the PSP. I have been told that this is the inferior version though. Well, regardless of that, it’s still an excellent game bar the fact that the computer cheats. The computer cheats in a lot of games, but in Puzzle Quests it starts greifing you. If it was a real person, it would likely have been the kid in school who says that he has done outlandish things; “My uncle used to train Hulk Hogan” or “I finished Super Mario Bros. without using jump”. General bullshit. Just like what this Puzzle Quest AI offers. Each lucky row it picks up, it’s like a “I’ve got a new N64” while you’re there with your SNES. Well the jokes on it if it doesn’t have an expansion pack.

Anyway, Puzzle Quest’s AI aside, it’s still a great game. This is partially due to the map like addition and RPG elements, but it’s the puzzle side of the game that brings you back. Who would have thought matching coloured blocks could be so much fun when playing Connect 4 is so boring. Actually, Connect 4 is okay, it’s one of the better board games if you can call it that. It’s no Master Mind, but hey what is?

Back to Bejewelled. It doesn’t have the AI scum, so that is something that doesn’t have to be dealt with. Instead, you are up against time. Something consistent and challenging and also, slightly soul destroying. Yes, Bejewelled for all its colours and varied audience can just sap the will out of a person.

Picture this; you have just seen your buddy grab a decent score. It’s a new week so yours is clear. Time to show them you’re in the competition this week. You get your Free Spin and bring home decent amount of coins. This is a great feature by the way Pop-Cap. You select +5 time, perhaps Random Jewel and then it’s a preference or availability. Multiplier if it’s free, perhaps Detonator if it isn’t. This I find is a decent set up. Ready to go!

When you start, it can go two ways; there’s either a few bunches that you can see straight away or one or two near the top. If this is the case, you’re fucked. We start matching and it’s going okay, time ends and we can throw down a 150K score. This is about my average. I’m no hero, but I would say I’m okay at the game. We go again, some decent momentum but finish around the same mark. This can happen and usually does happen a bunch of times. You could give up at this point and return at a later date, or you can keep going. The latter is the choice that shouldn’t be taken.

So you have decided to go again. At this point, your mouse control and click have become a little more erratic. Focusing on the jewels becomes a problem themselves; the more you concentrate the more it seems like your vision is fucking up. You see your score or have an instinct that you are doing shit, and take long pauses during play as you know you are defeated. When you do build up a rhythm, it’s one at a time; a row of three, a row of three, a row of three. You feel as though you have no skill. Still playing, and there’s nothing you can’t see anything to match up. Your hint pops up and points at a line that has a coin jewel as part of it or a multiplier. You can’t see the lines because of these jewels throw you off.

Play again. Your vision and coordination has gone to shit. A few rows and you try and find something by shakily moving the mouse around the grid to help focus your vision. Ah! At the top! Noooo! This is when you realize that just like Puzzle Quest any many EA Sports games, that this game, this friendly as a fat man game, cheats. It fucking cheats. You make a three at the top, the jewels drop and whoa, what a coincidence, another three. They dropped just the jewels I needed. How lucky, again, and again…just enough to keep ticking over. This happens until you break out. You get trapped by this cheating mechanism, and it locks you down. It’s not assistance at all. At this point you’re so pissed off that you might just let the time run out. Why not, you can’t win, not if you’re playing against time that cannot be controlled and the drops are only there to make sure that you can continue and nothing more. What’s the point?

The only thing that is worse than when this fucker cheats like this, is when it does this to fuck up your good scores. There you are, comboing the shit out of the ores and dropping points and special gems everywhere. And then it happens; only one line left and it’s at the top. At this point you may as well just throw your computer out of the nearest window and realize that everything is down to fate or cheaters or both. Bejewelled is both. It chooses what you can score, no skill, you are locked to what you will get when it loads up. Those special gems don’t do shit. I only choose the Detonator to make me feel like I can change fate. But then you are also competing against a cheater. It doesn’t matter. This is why Pop-Cap gives you a free spin.

So my vision is screwed. My mouse control is all messed up. My shoulders have dropped and I see someone above my score with about 200,000 more points than me. Great. I hate Bejewelled.

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