It’s weird being the ‘puzzle guy’ around the office. Everyone automatically assumes that I’ll want to get the latest puzzle game to review, and – plop – there it is on my desk. But do they know me? Do they know my secret desires? No, let the ‘puzzle guy’ have his puzzles. Maybe I wanted a shooter or something instead, huh?
There are two very good reasons why I don’t get the shooters. One, I suck at them, and two, I don’t enjoy them very much. So maybe they have me pegged, and ‘puzzle guy’ I remain.
This is fortunate, because otherwise I might not have run across Global Star’s package of two Pop Cap games, Bejeweled and Alchemy.
Everyone should remember Pop Cap and their insidious Atomica, which pervaded every online game site and robbed whole days from unsuspecting people. Bejeweled and Alchemy have also shown up on many game sites, and I can attest to many lost hours to them as well.
Now, these guys have put both games in a single package for the PC, so now, while you may never get the time back, you at least aren’t spending bandwidth as well. These versions are very similar to the ones that are online, with a few extra graphics tidbits and features.
For those that have been under a rock or something for the past several months, I will explain the basics of the two games. ‘Shooter guys’ might want to pay attention as well.
In Bejeweled, you are given a grid of several different types (colors and shapes) of gems. (Unfortunately, the one that is shaped like a GiN Gem is blue, but I won’t hold that against them.) A move consists of switching the places of two adjacent (not diagonally) gems, in order to get at least three identical gems in a row or column (again, not diagonally). At this point all the matched gems will disappear and the gems above will come down and fill the void, adding new ones to the top as necessary. If this movement makes other gem groups, then they will disappear and so forth. The more groupings you make in succession, the higher they score. When you can’t make a move that groups gems, the game is over.
In Alchemy, you start with a nearly empty board, and place various symbols (of astrological origins, mostly) that are each one of several colors on the board, but you can only put them where they match any existing adjacent symbols by either symbol or color. If you manage to make a complete row or column across the board, then the symbols in that row or column disappear. When you place a symbol in a square for the first time that level, it turns to gold. When you turn all of the squares to gold, the board clears, advancing you to the next level. When you can’t or choose not to place a symbol, you have to discard it. When you discard four symbols in succession, the game is over.
The graphics on these two games is fantastic, and of course an improvement over the online versions. The sound and music is right on target, well suited for both games. The best features are the very low system requirements and the incredibly small space it needs on your hard drive. It is so refreshing to have a game that you use the disk once for installing, and then never have to see it again.
The only problem I had with this well-put-together piece of work is that, since it came on a CD to be loaded on your PC, I would have thought that there would be a whole slew of additional features. Not that these two games aren’t great in the online format, it’s just that I would have liked to have seen what the developers could do once bandwidth was no longer an issue.
As it stands, however, both Bejeweled and Alchemy are great games, and in this format they are presented with terrific graphics and fantastic sound, and what’s more, they still have the same ability as their online counterparts to steal away huge chunks of time from their players. I give this package 4.5 out of 5 GiN Gems.
Now, if you will excuse me
Developers: Popcap Games