Just when you thought PopCap had moved on from their gem-matching roots, they've gone and unleashed news that they'll be returning to the world-wide productivity epidemic that is "Bejeweled." Yes, "Bejeweled 3" is coming in December with new modes, power-ups and badges to obsess over.
Like previous "Bejeweled" titles, the core of "Bejeweled 3" will focus on gem matching. Classic mode is going to be home to the gameplay you know so well, but PopCap has gone and added new power gems to keep things interesting. Quest mode will take a new twist on this gameplay, and will focus on minigames, using the match-3 mechanics as a base.
Zen mode is also new, and it'll act as a twist on the Endless mode of "Bejeweled 2." In "3," however the soundtrack in Zen mode will be affected by your matches, adding "ambient sounds and binaural beats" as you play.
Here's the question, though: Does a full-sized "Bejeweled" still have legs? We've seen PopCap produce incredibly innovative games like "Plants vs. Zombies," but when you're dealing with something as simple as matching gems, it's harder for originality to spring forth.
The last big step PopCap made with the "Bejeweled" franchise was "Bejeweled Blitz," the hugely popular Facebook game, but the innovation there wasn't in gameplay as much as it was social networking and battling friends for high scores. It worked extremely well as a minute-long experience, but I'm not sure the "Bejeweled" model has the same cache as a game played over the course of several minutes or hours.
Put simply, can "Bejeweled" be interesting again? Well, if any company is able to take a simple concept and make it something "more," it's PopCap. We'll see if they're able to work their magic once again when "Bejeweled 3" launches on December 7 for PC and Mac.
UPDATE: Here's the trailer for "Bejeweled 3." Kinda incredible how they were able to make a gem-matching game look bad ass.