Friday, December 17th, 2010 at 3:20 PM
Addicting games on handheld devices first showed up on the Palm Pilot, not the iPhone or iPod Touch. I went to Astraware for Palm games because the company developed bright, sharp colored games that played well on the small touchscreen. (It still does.)
Would you believe that the games on my younger BlackBerry never captivated me like the older Palm device did? Not even close. Playing games on the BlackBerry felt clumsy with ho hum graphics.
Ah, I’m getting off track. Back to the point of the Palm story. One of the earlier games I played on the Palm was Diamond Mine, the game now known as Bejeweled. Popcap Games captured a new audience on Facebook with Bejeweled Blitz (BB). (And now with Zuma Blitz. Grr… I don’t have time for these addictions!) You had one minute to make as many matches as you could.
Popcap not only had my friends smack talking me in the game, but also it reeled in my entire family including Mom, sis and bro. Mom played some computer games, but BB had her checking in Facebook daily. Sis and bro didn’t play many games until BB. Family gatherings turned into smack talk fests and “How did you get ##### score??”
The company wouldn’t stop there in fear it can’t repeat the success it had with BB. Never. This company is responsible for hypnotizing gamers with its incredible, clever and creative Plants vs. Zombies. Popcap is also responsible for other game addictions including Chuzzle and Zuma.
Bejeweled 3 comes with more matching magnetism, smashing sound effects, mesmerizing graphics and spellbinding games. Sequels don’t always do much more than give you more of the same with a different design. Not Bejeweled 3. The game takes a quantum leap compared to most — if not all — sequels. This comes with more game modes, eight mini-games, supercharged sound (even *I* can tell) and high-definition graphics (1920 x 1200 in ultra mode).
Classic and Zen mode are the same. In Classic, you keep making moves until you run out. However, you get a new gem known as the Star gem and when you finish the level, the jewels travel through an breathtaking tunnel. Even my youngest exclaimed, “Coooool!” Zen always has a match waiting for you as the point is to enjoy, be in the moment and take a break from the mean ol’ competitive world. Zen mode also soothes you with its sounds and gives you lots of options so you won’t need Calgon to take you away.
The new modes:
- Butterflies: Butterflies appear on the board and you need to match them with the same colored gems to prevent them from falling into spider’s hands … legs. Now, my family will tell you I hate spiders including fake ones, even as stuffed animals or jewelry. Yet, I found myself entranced by the game trying to free the butterflies to avoid the ugly, scary, mean spider.
- Poker: Instead of matching anything and everything you can, you need to plan and strategize to make the most of your five moves. The better your hand, the more points you score. As you progress in the game, a skull appears on the worst hand — a pair. So if all you do is score a pair, then it could be game over — it all depends on the flip of the coin. Land the four-leaf clover, you can keep playing. Get the skull, you’re done. More skulls will appear forcing you to make the best hands possible.
- Ice storm: This one makes me panic as I have to move fast to prevent the ice filling up the column. I don’t do speed games well, but it’s a chiller and thriller that will please fast-paced game fans.
- Diamond mine: Use your matches to dig in the dirt to release gold and artifacts.
One more special mode is Quest mode. Like Adventure modes you see in most casual games, it’s more of play it one time and then you probably won’t want to replay it. I loved this mode and it helped me get to know some of the new modes while playing a couple of new mini-games like alchemy where you need to make matches until the board fills with gold.
The game has 65 achievement badges that will encourage you to keep going so you can win every badge. Furthermore, the end of every game displays statistics. Oh, and Bejeweled 3 steals a page from Peggle with replays. It doesn’t have the same charm as Peggle‘s, but it’s there for you to enjoy when you do amazing plays.
What’s most impressive about number three is that several modes grip me. Most games just have one mode that I play again and again. In Bejeweled 3, I’ll be doing Butterfly one day and the next I’m drawn to Poker.
Bejeweled 3 is worth it. If you like any of the others, you’ll be thrilled with this one — it’ll make you forget the others as well as whatever games you’re playing. The game sounds like an exaggeration, but Popcap went all in with this one.
Download and try Bejeweled 3.
FCC alert: Reviewer received a review copy from the publisher. It had no bearing on the review.
Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans
Friday, April 30th, 2010 at 10:28 AM
Birthday boy with Chuzzle friends
My youngest of three turned seven on April 28. My little guy is the only one of the five of us born outside of the January – February and Capricorn – Aquarius months (or Capriquarius as I call ‘em because my birthday falls right where one ends and another begins). Winter birthdays are awesome, but it’s nice having one in the spring and get a break from all the celebrating that occurs within one month (January 14 – February 10). He loves drawing, playing Chuzzle and doing whatever his big brother does.
Gosh, seven years since I touched the baby blog that began with the pregnancy test and ended shortly after his arrival. Anyway, enough indulging Mom. And onto more important things for you… the weekly links.
And for fun because we’re allowed…
Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 at 7:05 AM
Friday, September 19th, 2008 at 6:38 AM
An enchanting experience awaits match three fans in 4 Elements. The game’s stunning visuals, airy music, and twist on match three create a beautiful package. The story begins with the corruption of the magic of the four elements that kept a kingdom running for centuries.
You need to unlock the four ancient books of magic and collect 16 cards to restore the kingdom. The four books include Earth, fire, air, and water with each containing four cards. Before making matches, players need to unlock one book beginning with Earth. Here, players find all the pieces of objects needed to find the key to unlock the book.
The objects interact with the scene to help locate more missing pieces and eventually the key. The matching game comes in after unlocking the book. Earth is the first book you must restore by clearing tiles to create a path for the magic energy to flow through until it reaches the altar.
In Earth, the clearing the brown tiles lets the green energy make its way to the altar to bring a tree to life. The scenes and tiles match the books’ themes. So the book of fire has red liquid and ends with a flame while water’s energy is blue and the revived altar looks like a waterfall.
It takes four rounds of matching to find all the missing for a card. Once restored, players need to seek differences between the two scenes of the card to complete restore it. A fairy guides you throughout 4 Elements and offers hints in the key searching and card comparison mini-games when needed.
Unlike standard match three games, you don’t work to clear all the tiles in the scene. Instead, you work to make a path to help the energy flow from one end to the altar. The scene moves as you progress on the path and you can’t go backward. In making longer matches, the tiles at the end of the match explode affecting tiles around it. The number of tiles depends on the length of the match. So pay attention in case you need a little help from the explosion by creating the match in the right direction.
Four bonuses show up whenever you make enough matches of the bonus’ corresponding color. The shovel — which clears one tile — fills up based on green tile matches. Other bonuses consist of a bomb for clearing a small area, swap for trading two pieces, and rearrange for moving all the tiles in hopes of getting better matches.
4 Elements gives you no reason to play the game again once you play all 64 levels. Games don’t always need to have a second mode, but this one misses an opportunity for not having a second mode consisting of only the matching game considering its unique twist. Chuzzle and Bejeweled don’t have stories, yet their endless mode compel people to play them repeatedly.
It’s not often we see an original game come along especially in a popular genre. 4 Elements not only brings a fresh approach to match threes, but also comes with amazing production values. Just go download it from your favorite site. One hour of play is worth it.
Download the game from your favorite site:
Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Meryl Evans
Monday, December 24th, 2007 at 10:27 AM
Well, I had my 10 best casual PC games of 2007 all ready to go… then Ken Edwards from Blogcritics.org’s gaming section asks me if Peggle Deluxe is on the list. When I told him I hadn’t played it (I’d never get work done if I play and review every released game), he told me to check it out before posting the top 10.
Oi! Within minutes, I know this game deserves a spot in the top 10. But what unlucky game am I going to knock off the top 10 list?
Before digging into the world of Peggle Deluxe, let me tell you a story. My parents had a classic Pachinko machine with a door handle. It only worked some of the time, but I loved the noise when you hit a jackpot. Years later, Paul and I went to Atlantic City for the weekend and saw modern Pachinko machines with the round handles for sale.
So the first thing that I thought about when playing Peggle Deluxe was that it was a twist on the Pachinko. Sure enough, I found an article about PopCap’s creation of Peggle. Yes, it’s PopCap’s fault that many of us are addicted to several games… Bejeweled (originally Diamond Mine), Chuzzle, and now Peggle.
In Peggle Deluxe, shoot a ball anywhere and let it do the work. The goal is to clear all the orange pegs. After letting go of the ball, sit back and hope it hits lots of orange pegs along with a green peg for a power up and a purple peg for bonus points. Once it makes it through the jungle of pegs, hope that it lands inside the moving bucket that you can’t control. It simply moves side to side. It’s nice not having pressure to control the bucket on top of everything.
The game begins with a unicorn as your guide. Every guide has its own special powers that you earn when hitting a green peg. The unicorn reveals a guide so you can see where your ball goes next after it hits the first peg. I won’t mention the others as finding out their powers is part of the fun. Each character has its own theme that changes the pegs and background to match that theme.
The pegs often line up to look like an object or create a challenging shape. One level had three infinitys, another shows one of many animals, and still another has moving circles. Lots of variety! Impossible to get bored and almost impossible to tear yourself away.
The game compels you to cheer and whoop when you hit that last orange peg thanks to its cool close up slow motion effect. The view zooms in to the last orange peg, which slows down like a dramatic moment in a movie. Now, sometimes you might miss, but when you hit it — Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” plays with booming enthusiasm like a running back scoring a touchdown.
Would you believe that one of the best features — “Ode to Joy” — was originally a placeholder? That’s what the previously mentioned article says.
Occasionally, you’ll be amazed by a move. Watch it again with the “Instant Replay,” that does exactly that… replays the last move. After you play through the quest and conquer all the games with all of the characters, you unlock more game modes including Quick Play for playing a previously played puzzle using any character you want, Duel (to play against someone or the computer), and Challenge that contains 75 puzzles.
Each level comes with a specific amount of balls. The fewer balls you use to clear the orange pegs, the higher the bonus. You can also earn free balls by scoring a specified amount of points or dropping the ball into the bucket.
Just try it — play Peggle Deluxe for at least 15 minutes and you’ll love it.
- Windows Vista, XP, 2000, ME, 98
- 256 MB RAM
- 700 MHz or faster processor
- DirectX 7.0 or later
Friday, August 18th, 2006 at 9:07 AM
Popcap Games and Astraware did it again. This time in the form of cute little fuzzballs known as Chuzzle. Most of the games on my handheld devices come from Popcap — Astraware adopts them for handheld devices. You can tickle the furballs by repeatedly tapping (or clicking) them. Eventually, something happens after a few tickles — including the big Chuzzles. If you leave your mouse over a chuzzle(non-fat), it will get angry.
Darn game is eating into my reading time! Check out Chuzzle.
The game comes with Zen Mode. This version can go on and on as there are no locks, no running out of moves. It was boring at first, but then I earned a charm and that motivated me to keep playing to earn more charms.
The instructions for the game don’t say much. So I went to Astraware’s forums and learned more about the game. The instructions come from the forum and my experience. Some are specific to the PC version and others to the handheld version.
You can get one scramble at at 150,000, 300,000 and 600,000 points. But you can’t have more than three scrambles. You need double score in Expert mode.
If you go into the scores menu, and go into trophies, you will see all the trophies that are possible (NOTE: there is an arrow at the top to go to the next screen), if you tap on each of the un-hilighted trophies, it shows you what you need to do to get the trophy.
Page 1 of Trophy Screen (handheld version has two pages)
Seven At Once – for popping seven Chuzzles as one group (you need 7 Chuzzles of the same color (different sizes are OK) all connected.
Eleven At Once – V1.0 for popping eleven or more Chuzzles as one group
Eight At Once – V1.10 for popping eight or more Chuzzles as one group (To get 8-at-once you need 8 Chuzzles of the same color all connected.)
Chuzzle Bingo – for popping across the whole board with one color
Hundred Grand – for popping 100,000 Chuzzles
Ten Grand – for popping 10,000 Chuzzles
Big Boy – for sparing all fat Chuzzles in a game. I play Speed Expert to get the Fat Boy trophy. Once a fat chuzzle appears on the screen I just let the time run out.
Million Chuzzel Man – for popping 1,000,000 Chuzzles
Reactor – for causing a seven-step cascade
Brainiac – for playing an entire game without using hints
Trophy Collector – for obtaining every other trophy
Puzzler – for reaching level 10 in Mind Binder
Flawless – for playing one level without a bad move. Use speed expert and let time run out.
Quad Combo – for making a quadruple combo
Triple Combo – for making a triple combo
Page 2 of Trophy Screen
Lockmaster – for removing three or more locks in one sweep
Chuzz 10 – For reaching level 10 in Classic or Speed Chuzzel
Mentalist Master – for reachingg level 20 in Mind Bender
Fat Blaster – for popping 1,000 fat Chuzzles.
Mentalist Supremo – for solving all Mind Bender puzzles
Psychic – for solving all puzzles through level 10 in mindbender
Chuzzlebomer – for popping 1,000 Super Chuzzles
Speed Freak – for clearing two Speed Levels without getting a lock
Quad Boomer – for exploding four supper Chuzzels at once
Speed Demon – for passin speed level 5 without getting a lock
Speed Master – for clearing two Speed Levels without a warning
Triple Boomer – for exploding three Super Chuzzles at once
It’s the special mode of Chuzzle that you can unlock; it’s different from the other Chuzzle modes (Speed, Zen, etc.). Not going to spoil the surprise.
To get BeChuzzled, first be sure to get the following five trophies so that they appear in the trophy room.
7 at Once
Then click them following the above sequence, from top to bottom. You can see a yellow star appears each time you click on a trophy on the upper left corner. So when you get 5 yellow stars. TADA! BeChuzzled unlocks. It’s accessible via a small round button on the Astraware logo at the main game screen. You only need one Mind Bender trophy: “Puzzler” and that’s achieved by reaching level 10 in Mind Bender.
The more Chuzzles you can pop at once, the higher the score – combinations and cascades are best, every subsequent match in a cascade gains you higher points for the same number of Chuzzles – you’ll see a 2x, 3x etc..
Rainbow chuzzles are worth more, if you can get those to pop during a cascade you can get some serious points on that. I wonder if that’s how you got your 300,000…
Try to set them up so you can get 2 sets to match at once, or a cascade – it’s not easy, but you get the hang of it after a while.
In Mind Bender, you only need to solve three of the puzzles on any given level to unlock the next level.
Mind Bender Mode doesn’t count since you don’t pop any Chuzzles. But Zen, Classic or Speed Modes count towards your total popped Chuzzle count.
For fun, tickle the Chuzzles by tapping or clicking on them multiple times including the fat ones. Repeated taps on the Chuzzles and their funny faces and sounds are just for fun and don’t affect game play (unless you’re doing it in Time mode while time is running out). Same for those with sunglasses.
If you pop a Chuzzle in Zen Mode it counts the same as if you pop them in Classic Mode…
Hint on the Speed Level 5 trophy for Chuzzle PC users… Go to:
C:Program FilesPopCap GamesChuzzle DeluxeProfiles[your profile name]
Find the file named SAVEGAME-SPEEDCHUZZLE.DAT (if, of course, you have a saved game in this mode). When you pass level 4, copy this file on your desktop for example, and then overwrite it. This way you’ll play only level 5, you won’t need to pass the other levels. It’s easier.
So I’ve figured out how to check your Chuzzle count for those working towards a million Chuzzle. Go into the Chuzzle Directory in the c drive. There is a folder named profiles. Open up your profile and there will be a file called INFO.CFG. Open that file up with notepad or word and the first 3 lines will tell you how many Chuzzles, fat Chuzzles and super Chuzzles you have popped. Also all charms up top have become gold, they turn into rainbow.
Big Chuzzles Formed: If you pop 4 Chuzzles in a square then you get a big Chuzzles. There are some exceptions to this rule, so it doesn’t always happen.
Glowing Chuzzles Formed: If you pop 5 Chuzzles of one color in a single group, one of them turns into a glowing Chuzzle instead of disappearing.
When Locked Chuzzles Appear: In speed mode, they appear when the bar at the bottom fills. In classic mode, they appear randomly, but more often as you progress up the levels.
Only one secret mode: BeChuzzled.
Flawless Trophy: I used Speed Chuzzle [Expert] and did a minimum number of moves to finish the first level. If you get a few cascades the first level can be over quickly. Then once the 2nd level started, I cleared out a few bottom ones to get a Fat Chuzzle (cuz someone said in another forum that you need to see a fat chuzzle, so I figured it was worth a shot), then I just let it scramble out the rest of the game and I got the Flawless Trophy.
Charms appear in the upper right-hand corner after so many points beginning with the heart followed by star, moon, shamrock, musical note, and horseshoe. Each had its own color (blue, green, red, and so on) and then one by one, they turned gold (over a long period of time). Then they turn multi-colored, and reportedly don’t do anything else after this.
I checked the original PC version of the game, and the Astraware version is indeed slightly different. When you get all the rainbow charms they should all turn gold instead of not doing anything. Basically, you don’t get anything at the end of Zen mode, which confuses people because doing the same for Bejeweled 2 unlocked a secret mode. You have to find the secret mode for Chuzzle another way!
There are 20 levels in Mindbender, each containing 5 puzzles. If you don’t seem to be able to get any further, some people have not spotted the arrow buttons in the bottom left. These navigate between levels.
Eyeballs lining up in Zen mode from bottom left to right measure how far you have gotten. If you get enough eyes (or Chuzzles on Pocket PC) then you get a stripe. Get enough stripes, and you get a charm.
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