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You might not know this, but Microsoft and Bejeweled go way back. PopCap created the very first version in Flash in 2001, originally calling it Diamond Mine. When Microsoft hosted the game at its MSN gaming site, the two parties agreed to change the title to Bejeweled, a name that has now become synonymous with the match-3 puzzle genre.

Windows Phone 7 launched with Bejeweled Live, a decent but overpriced ($5!) port of the game with only three game modes. Considering that Bejeweled on iPhone and iPad each include five modes for only one dollar, the original Bejeweled Live has always represented a poor value proposition.

Thankfully, PopCap has finally made good with Bejeweled Live+, essentially a port of the iOS version. A timed Nokia exclusive, it has a two dollar markup on Windows Phone 7 and 8. But three dollars doesn’t sting too badly when we’re talking about the finest pure puzzle game on the platform.

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Nokia has done it again this week by bringing yet another Xbox game to its dedicated Lumia users. This time around it’s PopCap’s turn with an updated and dare we say nicely done implementation of Bejeweled Live+.

For those curious, it’s the “+” that makes this different than the current Bejeweled Live app on the Windows Phone Store. With that name change comes an extra two levels (Butterfly and Zen mode) and updated graphics.

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Yes, our DOTW images are getting more and more obscure.

Last week Gerbil Physics - a game that had never been on sale before - became the Xbox Live Deal of the Week. That must’ve been an aberration, as this week we get another repeat deal. Bejeweled Live is on sale again for $2.99, down from $4.99.

Bejeweled is the classic match-3 puzzle game that has enchanted casual gamers across a variety of platforms. If you’re hungry for a simple puzzle game to play whenever a spare moment pops up, Bejeweled is a good place to look. As our review indicates, the Windows Phone version has three ways to play: Classic, Race the Clock, and Endless. It’s also got some tough and grindy Achievements despite being a casual title, but that’s PopCap games for you.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready for either the enhanced iOS version of Bejeweled (based on Bejeweled 3) or Zuma’s Revenge to come to Windows Phone. In the meantime, Bejeweled Live could use a permanent price drop, and it wouldn’t hurt to put Plants vs. Zombies on sale at last. Come on PopCap, make our dreams come true!

Bejeweled Live is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. Grab it here  on the Marketplace.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Jewel God

"Bejeweled on steroids" is an easy way to describe the Windows Phone game Jewel God. If you like the Bejeweled-styled games but are looking for something with more of a quicker pace to it, then Jewel God should be right up your alley.

The concept of Jewel God is very similar to Bejeweled in that you are searching for combinations of three or more of the same jewels but the pace is fast. Some may say frantic. Jewel God is a entertaining, addictive game for your Windows Phone that will definitely keep you on your toes.

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Windows Phone Game Review: Rummycomb

Rummycomb is a Bejeweled inspired game for your Windows Phone that was recently updated to version 1.2. The update brings a Christmas theme to the game and resolved a few issues the game was experiencing.

You face a hexagonal grid of various objects and your job is to find matching suits of these objects based on suit or color. You build connections of three or more objects to earn points.  Rummycomb has three game modes and a handful of themes to keep things interesting.

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PopCap Games, Game House (interview), and Zynga are probably the three heaviest hitters among casual game developers and publishers. PopCap is the most mainstream of the big three, selectively porting their games from PCs to consoles and mobile devices with amazing success. On Windows Phone they have produced Bejeweled LIVE (review) and Plants vs. Zombies (review), which I feel is the single best game on the platform. We’re super excited to bring you this interview with Andrew Stein, PopCap’s Director of Mobile Product Management.

Head past the break for an insightful interview and exclusive, never-before-seen Plants vs. Zombies concept art!

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It’s a very Popcap week on Xbox Live. Not only are all of Popcap’s Xbox 360 games on sale, but the Bejeweled Live is the Xbox Live Deal of the Week on Windows Phone. It’s on sale for $2.99 (the price it always should have been, many would say), down from $4.99.

Bejeweled is the classic match-3 puzzle game that has enchanted casual gamers across a variety of platforms. If you’re hungry for a simple puzzle game to play whenever a spare moment pops up, Bejeweled is a good place to look. As our review indicates, the Windows Phone version has three ways to play: Classic, Race the Clock, and Endless. It’s also got some tough Achievements despite being a casual title, but that’s Popcap for you. Don’t ask me about XBLA Zuma’s Achievements or we’ll be here all night.

Bejeweled Live is on sale for $2.99 for one week only. Grab it here on the Marketplace.

If you’d prefer some console Bejeweled action, both Xbox 360 versions are on sale too: the fast-paced and multiplayer-oriented Bejeweled Blitz Live for $2.50/200 Microsoft Points and regular old Bejeweled 2 for $5/400 Points. From a PC or Mac, you can purchase Blitz here and Bejeweled 2 here.

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Ener-Jewels - App Spotlight

There are a few "bejeweled-like" games available over at the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. One such is ImproviSoft's Ener-Jewels.

As with most "bejeweled-like" games, the object is to create a vertical or horizontal combination of three or more of the same jewels. Ener-Jewels has four game modes,

  • Infinity: A never ending game mode.
  • Power-up: As you create the combinations, you obtain power to move to the next stage. The power-up meter is at the bottom of the screen and when it fills, you move to the next level.
  • Time Race: You race against the clock to score as much as you can. The more combos you create, the slower the countdown timer runs.
  • Burst: You have sixty seconds to complete each level. Fail to do so and the game's over.

As you power up, the levels become more challenging. Should you get stuck, there's a hint button just below the power bar to help you out.

Ener-Jewels shares the same addictive quality that the original Bejeweled possesses. Graphics are crisp, sound effects nice, and with the multiple gaming modes there's plenty of game time available.

Ener-Jewels comes in two versions. You have Ener-Jewels TGIF, a free, ad-supported version and if you don't like the ads, there's a paid version without ads that runs $1.99.

You can find Ener-Jewels TGIF here (opens Zune) and Ener-Jewels here at the Marketplace.

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Pirate's Mind - Review

Puzzle games are a great fit for mobile gaming. They’re playable in short bursts and appeal to a wide audience. They’re also very easy to create, as every seemingly Indie developer and his brother has at least a couple of the Marketplace. Developer M80 games’ Pirate’s Mind manages to stand out from the crowd thanks to its unique game play and high-quality presentation.

Pirates are a greedy sort, spending much of their time thinking about treasure. So a pirate themed puzzle game must naturally revolve around collecting money. In Pirate’s Mind, the playing field consists of 30 coins. Every coin’s back looks identical, but there are actually three kinds of coins to match: bronze, silver, and gold. Matching coins works kind of like the card game Memory in that after flipping two coins, if they aren’t a match, those two coins will still be in the same place. Then you can flip a new, random coin and try to match it with the ones you’ve already seen.

Learn more of Pirate’s Mind’s secrets after the jump.

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