Bejeweled 2 Deluxe was released in 2005 for the xbox 360. It's a sequel to the hit puzzle game Bejeweled. The concept of Bejeweled, as is the case with most puzzle games, is really quite simple. There is a board filled with gems, or jewels, of various shapes and sizes, and your goal is to swap places, two gems at a time, in order to cause three or more of the same kind of gems to line up. This results in them disappearing from the board, only to be replaced by the same number of a random selection of gems. Also as is the case with most other puzzle games, this simplicity is deceptive, as there are various strategies to be employed en route to clearing the requisite number of moves in order to progress. At least, this is the case for some of the modes. The end goal changes depending on which of the several game modes you are playing. We'll come to this momentarily, however. I'd like to describe the basic gameplay in just a little more detail before we get to the game modes.
There are seven main types of gems: the red square, the green circle, the yellow diamond, the white circle, the orange hexagon, the blue rounded (Reuleaux) triangle, and the purple triangle. When four of these are matched, a Power Gem is created. These are special versions of the regular pieces that explode when matched with other gems, destroying the surrounding pieces. When five gems are matched, a Hypercube is created. These special pieces destroy all of the gems of a given variety on the field when matched with one of that variety. For example, matching it with a purple triangle results in all of the available purple triangles being destroyed. These Power Gems and Hypercubes become focal points of the gameplay, as they play heavily into the strategies employed in the game.
As alluded to earlier, there are several game modes found within Bejeweled 2 Deluxe. There are nine modes, to be exact. The standard mode is as described above. The Action mode is a timed version of the standard mode. Puzzle Mode is a mode in which you are presented with various puzzles which need to be solved by matching specific gems in a certain order, thereby clearing the board. Another mode available in the game is the Endless mode, which is comprised of a series of levels, which increase in length as you get farther in. The hook in this mode is that you can never lose, hence the title 'Endless Mode.' Unlike in the regular modes, you will never get the dreaded no more moves text popup, which signifies a game over. The rest of the modes are hidden, and are up to the player to discover.
Visually, the game is pleasing to the eye, especially in high definition. Nothing ground breaking, but it's a nice clean, simple look, with sharp detail and beautiful backgrounds. The gems have a shine to them which catches the eye.
The game, like many other in the genre, is seemingly innocuous at first, but gets devilishly harder as time progresses, and if it grabs you, will hook you in for many, many hours. The developers tried to play to this with the achievements, which are very, very difficult to attain and almost incomprehensibly time consuming for the most part. The one for reaching level 280 in Endless mode, for example, will take about 100 hours to complete. Then you add in the 10000 power gems/1000 hypercubes achievement, and you have yourself a lot of gameplay ahead of you, if so inclined.
As far as negatives go, there are but a few. It's not incredibly complex, but that seems to work to its advantage. There's just enough depth to keep you interested, while at the same time remaining simplistic enough to be accessible and fun. However, this lack of depth may be seen as a downside to some gamers. Another possible downside is that there is no multiplayer. This is a single player only affair. The game design is not one that strikes me as particularly conducive to multiplayer, but some people may feel otherwise.
This is a good game that will appeal to most puzzle game fans, save for those few who require vast amounts of depth in their puzzle games. Other than that group, this will be a good purchase, and at 10 dollars, it's a good value, especially considering the gameplay hours you can squeeze from it. It's the type of game that's good for those times where you don't want to play anything too engaging, but rather, just sort of zone out and play something that will help you unwind after a long day. And if you're an achievement hunter, you've got your work cut out for you.
Overall Score: 8.5/10