Everyone understands how Bejeweled works. I would hazard a guess that it’s one of the more successful casual PC games. You’ve likely played it before in an attempt to line up three or more same-colored gems to make them disappear. Dozens of imitation games have emerged, and there’s even some for mobile devices now. Bejeweled Frenzy really is one of those games that you have to play to understand the rules, however. Let me explain.
The game comes in its own case, which is also a board. There’s a deck of cards featuring gems of different colors:
Each card has two different colored gems on it. The game also comes with seven plastic gems — one of each color — that fit onto the board.
As you can see, the cards are sparkly and holographic. They’re pretty but this makes them difficult to view in certain light. Once or twice as we played, this actually caused us to grab the wrong card, but I’m getting ahead of myself. One thing that I really like is this case. The cards and gems fit back onto the white bottom piece and you cover it up with the clear piece to store it. During play, you can flip the cover upside down to rest beneath the board, which really saves space. It’s clever and doesn’t involve a bulky box.
To begin, each player gets one card that she places face up in front of her. The game works for up to four people sitting around the center board. You place as many cards as there are players face up into the board. Two cards for two players to four for four. I haven’t played with four people, so we always had an extra slot for the rest of the deck, which becomes the draw pile. Players take turns picking one of the cards on the board and adding it to their hand in a horizontal line. Then, a new card is added to those on the board.
The goal is to make three gems of the same color in a row on your hand. Because there are two gems on each card, you want to line up either the top or bottom gems of three cards, but you can’t choose both. When you pick a card, you get to choose which gem is on top, but it has to stay in that position once you place it on the table. When you do get three in the row, you combine those cards to make a single pile, choosing which card you want to play on top. As you play, your piles become bigger from combining them. If you can, set up your cards so that you can get four in a row or do a sequence of collapsing.
One thing I noticed was that luck of the draw really extended my line outward as you can see in the picture above. We actually began running out of table space, which is a shame. I wish the rules said something that would limit your line.
How do the plastic gems come into play? When you’re the first person to get three in a row of a color, you add the gem of that color to your hand. Once you run out of the desk, you count the cards in your biggest pile and add five points for every gem. The highest score wins. However, this game can go on and on, especially if there’s only two players. You could just end it after all the plastic gems are taken, which I did once.
Of course, I am a boring adult. How did a kid feel about it? She liked it. She wanted more gems, and you actually could combine the Bejeweled game with this one to do that. She also wanted a longer game, but she’s just crazy!
Bejeweled Frenzy is fun and an interesting implementation of the game we all know. However, the rules could use a tiny bit of refining.