Review by Bruce Consolazio



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 8

Daniel Bienvenu's Bejeweled for the ColecoVision is probably the most remarkable homebrew for this console in quite some time, because it's the first relatively recent game to have appeared on a ColecoVision in many years.

bejeweledcoleco.jpg (40598 bytes)Bejeweled is a popular on-line game in which the player is presented with seven different kinds of gems, arranged on an 8x8 grid. You select two neighboring gems, which switch positions. If this results in three or more of the same kind of gems in a row, then the move is legal, those gems disappear, and more fall from above. Each time you do this, you score points, and a "timing bar" at the bottom of the screen is filled somewhat. If you manage to fill this bar, gems explode and you score bonus points. The more you accomplish with a single move, the more points you earn, and the more the timing bar is filled. In timed games, the bar shrinks if you do not manage to properly y match any gems; if the bar becomes completely empty, the game is over. Diagonals do not count in this game, and gems cannot be moved diagonally, either.

And that's really it.

Since the game mechanics are so simple, this is one recent game that almost any programmable system ever made can handle, and the ColecoVision version proves it. Right from the moment you switch the game on, you can't help but be impressed; a credits screen with a large picture of Daniel Bienvenu holding a Ms. Space Fury cartridge appears, showing just what this system can really do. After this is a title screen, followed by a demonstration mode. After you press a button, you are presented with an Options Menu; you can choose from three different speeds (Not Timed, Slow-Timed, and Fast-Timed), each speed with or without Bombs (more on this in a minute), and a series of High-Score Screens. There are seven options, total.

Once the game begins, you use the joystick to first move a cursor (animated!) over one gem, push the button to select it, and then move the cursor over a neighboring gem. You push the button a second time to switch those two gems. If the move is legal, then all gems matched up vanish, and more fall from above. It plays like the on-line version.

However, this game offers something not found on-line: Bombs. In any game variation with Bombs, a blue animated Bomb appears over a randomly chosen gem. If you move the cursor over that gem and press the button, then that gem explodes and you are awarded with some points and time; of course, gems fall to fill in that space. This is an interesting variation, and adds something to the game.

Graphics are good- very good. The playfield is colorful and clear, and the gems are large and well-rendered- although two of them are a bit hard to tell apart (try the Tint control). An animated glitter moves from place to place; it's a simple thing, but adds much to the visual appeal of the game. The gems are in a blue and dark blue "container," which in turn is has five gems on either side. When two gems are switched the motion is very smooth indeed, and falling gems are also nicely done. When gems vanish they are briefly enclosed in a "blue space;" the effect is very satisfying. Even exploding gems have a professional look to them.

Sound is also good. When gems disappear, they actually "sound" like gems, explosions, while subdued, just sound right. Filling the time bar rewards you with an impressive enough sound effect, too. And of course the "Daniel Bienvenu Theme" is present and accounted for when the credits screen appears.

Gameplay is great. If you liked the on-line version, it is almost certain that you will enjoy this version. Since a joystick is used instead of a mouse, control takes some getting used to, but you are allowed to move the cursor in any of eight directions. As with Amazing Snake (q.v.), it's well worth the effort. Furthermore, how you play depends on which option n you choose: the timed games present you with a shrinking time bar, but the non-timed game doesn't. However, in the latter case, if you run out of legal moves, the game ends, so you must try to plan ahead in order to have a legal move after the one you make. The Bomb option is especially interesting here!

A player who is skilled at the on-line version will do well here, since the time bar does not shrink as fast as that version. The enjoyment at this point comes from trying to fill the time bar as quickly as possible, which often isn't easy to do. What's more, after playing for a while it becomes more difficult to concentrate and "zero in" on legal moves, and a particularly confusing arrangement of gems, especially if the time bar is already low, could end the game for you! The non-timed option requires forethought, not speed, so it actually counts as a different game altogether!

The programming here is very professional. About the only "flaw" is when you enter your initials on one of the High-Score Screens: an extra zero is added to your score. Since that zero is NOT present on the actual High-Score Screen, this is a minor flaw. Graphics, sound, and options are just about as good as anyone could want, and it's obvious that plenty of work went into this game.

Overall, what's there to say? ColecoVision owners now have an excellent version of Bejeweled for their consoles, right on cartridge. In other words, ColecoVision Bejeweled is yet another homebrewed winner.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 25, 2005 05:47 PM