Bejeweled Twist retrospective



May 4, 2013

In 2008 - before the crash - PopCap launched Bejeweled Twist with a party in the Sky Church at Seattle's Experience Music Project venue. Gymnasts played human match-three in the wonky, Gehry-rigged lintels, and waiters in retro-future Jetsons outfits wandered about serving cocktails. Earlier that day, I'd had a chat with the company founders back at their huge HQ just down the road. They'd shown me an early build of another new game, and it was one they seemed to be ever so slightly nervous about. A zombified spin on the tower defence genre, they knew it was clever, but they sensed it was potentially a little too hardcore, a little too niche to become another cash cow. Pre-lawyering, it was called Lawn of the Dead.

No worries, though, right? Whatever happened, they had a guaranteed million-seller on their hands, and another game that should at least go on to be an entertaining curio. Typically, as it happens, the PopCap founders were correct. Less typically, they had gotten the specifics muddled up. The tower defence offering was one simple name-change away from video game legend. Twist, meanwhile, would prove considerably more problematic.

Somewhere in my mind, I have Bejeweled Twist filed as a bit of a botch. It sold well enough, I gather, but I don't get the impression it connected with its audience as obviously as Bejeweled 2 had - and by the time Bejeweled 3 came along, the alterations that Twist made to the basic formula were nowhere to be seen. Crucially, I can't remember really playing Twist that much beyond a few turns at the EMP, so earlier this week I thought I'd give it another five minutes as a reminder of why I didn't like it, and then I'd get on with my life, an older and wiser engine.

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