Bejeweled

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Bejeweled is a highly addictive puzzle game from Popcap Games for Internet Explorer/ActiveX, for 32-bit Windows, for PalmOS-driven devices and as a MIDlet for Java-enabled MIDP-compatible mobile phones, as well as a Game Boy Advance version published by Majesco. The basic concept of the game involves exchanging the position of two adjacent tiles (jewels) in order to line up three or more identical tiles horizontally or vertically.

When the tiles are lined up they are removed, and tiles fall from the top of the playfield to fill the empty space. If jewels falling as the result of this line up into groups of three or more, they too will clear. This is called a cascade. Cascades cause a gauge at the bottom of the game display to fill up, and when it does so you receive a level-clearing bonus, a number of blocks are eliminated randomly, and blocks fall. It is possible that this will lead to another series of cascades that will fill up the meter again, et cetera.

There are two basic modes of play; timed, and normal. During the timed version, the meter will steadily decrease, and if there are no available moves, the playfield is cleared and refilled. In the normal game, if there are no available moves, the game is over.

There are four versions of the Bejeweled game besides the sequel, Bejeweled 2. The original was pesented on the web using ActiveX, which means it can only be played in Internet Explorer and on Windows. This was followed by a version which runs on Windows natively, and finally a version for PalmOS PDAs. Eventually, a Java MIDlet version was released for MIDP-compatible phones, and Majesco (maker of console games) brought a port to the GBA. These last two are the only versions played without a pointing device; the windows versions are mouse-controlled and the Palm version with the stylus.

While Bejeweled is a great deal of fun, each version has at least its share of problems and some amount of aggravation by design. The MIDP version in particular can get into a state where empty space is not refilled if the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) is interrupted, such as when a text message is received, yet the timer continues to run out. I have had both windows versions fail to credit me for a cascade that occurs as the timer expires, while the Java version will run out the timer while a match is being cleared, even when a cascade is about to occur - behavior not shared by the Windows versions of the game. These sorts of problems are endemic to Popcap games. In addition to these problems, the Java version has another fairly pathetic bug - the score is stored using a fairly small signed integer. I acheived a score of over 200,000, and the next time I ran the game I was informed that my score was approximately negative 32,000. While the game is very simple, the Java version takes over 140kB storage on your phone, more than Rayman 3 or either Prince of Persia MIDP game.

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