I want to start off by saying that I love playing Bejeweled 2 on my Iphone. I had the game on my Treo before that and it’s really the only game that I keep coming back to on a regular basis on the Iphone.  Some would say that I’m addicted. When I saw that there was a version on Facebook that you could play against your friends I was excited. But it turns out that I NEED a stylus or a finger to play the game, I’m no good with a mouse. It’s the opposite of what Microsoft just found out with console vs pc gamers.

So I waited patently and eventually the Iphone version got the coveted Blitz mode that was only available on Facebook and you could compare scores against your Facebook friends. There was much rejoicing. So I’ve been playing it almost everyday on the Metro annoying people that I knew in high school with my high scores. These were the salad days. I didn’t even mind that there was one guy that kept pushing me back to number two on my list. But then I found out that he was playing on Facebook and that version had added bonus multipliers called boosts. I really didn’t know much about them other than they seemed to make higher scoring easier. It’s like I was in a wood bat league and he came in with a composite bat filled with argon gas. I tried to play on Facebook again, but I still stink with a mouse. So I decided to wait until the Iphone version got the boosts. A little message taunted me on the top of the screen “We’re working on bring boosts to the Iphone”. So the other day it happened…

At first I was excited about the boosts, you get free multipliers, random gems, an extra 5 seconds. Since you only get 3 uses out of each boost it made the games that you were using the boosts extra intense. But then I realized something. Because the boosts make high scores so much easier, you HAVE to use them if you’re interested in the high score list. I think maybe what they were trying to do is give the weaker players a chance at beating the people above them in their lists. That’s exactly what they’ve done, increased chance. Blitz is a game much like poker, you need to have skill, but it’s mostly determined by how the cards (jewels) fall. The fun of playing Blitz for me is that in any game you could get the right gems and you could set the high score for the week. You have to buy the boosts at a cost of about 6000 coins, you earn about 650 coins in a average game. What that does is effectively neuter 90% of the games you play. You’ll have fun, you’ll earn coins, but you’ll never beat someone having a pretty good game while using 3 boosts at once. So the addicting quality that the next game could be the one that you break that big score. My previous high score in about a year of playing is 545,000 in about an hour with boosts I hit 615,000. They’ve essentially introduced grinding into the puzzle genre. You need to do boring repetitive tasks to achieve higher scores.

You could say that I’m just jealous that I won’t be #1 or maybe #2 when everyone learns to use the boosts and starts getting higher scores. But I really wish other people would challenge my scores, the only reason I became friends with the guy who keeps beating me is to compare bejeweled scores. 2 things I like best in video games are short repeatable game play and challenging high scores. Maybe I’m making too big of a deal about the scores, but the only reason boosts exist is to make your high score bigger. They are saying that getting a higher score and beating your friends is the only way to have fun in the game. What they’ve done is make everyone’s high scores 20% higher, but make them play 90% more games to get those higher scores. What they could do to fix this is either make a separate high score list for non-boost games or make the boosts cheaper to ‘buy’ so you didn’t have to spend so much time playing ‘meaningless’ games.

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