Dec

11

Getting Dazzled by the Social Game Genre that just Won’t Go Away!

Mark Stephens

I’m sure you’ve experienced the mesmerising dropping of brightly-coloured tiles as you switch them around the board and the thrill of seeing them blasted away as you form chains and cascades of diamonds, emeralds or rubies.

You can’t get enough of those explosions as you beat your new high score.

You know you shouldn’t…the boss needs that report by 5pm…but you can’t resist just one more game.

You’ve entered the world of Bejeweled and a host of similar games that it’s spawned.

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The concept of course is simple; the game play is easy enough for a five-year old, but there is an addictive quality that can reduce full-grown adults to nothing more than gem-transfixed zombies for hours on end.

And it would be much to the boss’s displeasure, if he wasn’t playing Diamond Dash next door in the adjacent office, oblivious to everything!

Striking a Diamond Mine

In the year 2000, when “Sexy Action Cool” started out, little did they suspect that they would be hitting the big time with colourful fun that kids could play; yes, folks, that was the original name of PopCap Games, the creators of the game Bejeweled, which has sold more than 75 million copies worldwide and been downloaded twice that amount of times.

The company started out with the goal of developing a strip poker game, according to co-founder Jason Kapalka. When that didn’t work and they moved to Seattle, work started on a game called Diamond Mine which soon became Bejeweled – essentially an arcade puzzle game that could be played via a browser on PCs anywhere.

While there have been many theories where the original idea came from (most popularly a Russian game called Shariki, Sega Columns or Tetris Attack) Kapalka says the idea came from another game that was so bad that it seems to have been wiped off the face of the game map entirely.

Bejeweled was originally going to be fruit tiles (so would it have been called “_Befruited_”?) but luckily that evolved into popular shapes of many different colours with sparkling, gem-like qualities.

It was Microsoft who changed the name from Diamond Mine to Bejeweled, and the relationship with the software giants also led to a few different incarnations of the game such as Bejeweled Deluxe.

It has also crossed onto many other platforms apart from PCs – PDAs, Palms, Smartphones, tablets and games consoles.

There’s no need to explain the rules of the game, because if you have a pulse you have probably either played the game or sat next to someone playing it – no need to bore you with the details.

But just how many similar games has Bejeweled spawned? There are quite a few arcade style puzzle/board games out there where you have to match tiles in formations to blast them off the board and score points against the clock.

Tile-Matching Puzzle and Social Games

  • Diamond Dash, by Wooga, has almost 20 million monthly active users. You have to match three or more diamonds to win points, as time ticks away.
  • Chuzzle is another title by PopCap Games where you need to match three or more googly-eyed furballs to win points.
  • Jewel Quest by iWin, where you have coins, gold nuggets, diamonds and skulls to match and win points.
  • Piyo Blocks 2, where you have to match the same coloured blocks to get the required number for the clock runs out.
  • Seven Wonders – takes on an archaeological theme, but against the different backgrounds you still have to match coloured blocks by moving tiles around.

But Why are you Chimps Talking about This?

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Haha…well we have been working on something in the Monkey Labs you see. Working so hard, in fact, that our creation is due for release.

It’s based on the classic type of game we’ve described above but specifically designed for play on a social networking platform…and only for those of you who like the action coming at you really thick and fast.

We don’t believe in the sedate speed of some of those other games!

The new Monkeybin game is called Quopples and the first thing you notice about it is how hyper-fast it is! That’s the big difference.

You still need to create the right combinations of colourful tiles to blast your way to victory. Four tiles of the same colour and/or symbol will clear them from the board – and you can create chain reactions and supercharged explosions to turbo-boost the clearance and gain more points and bonuses against the clock.

Then it’s over to your friend to try and beat your score. The challenge element and the way it synchs with Facebook means you can play against friends you’ve invited or against complete strangers…and chat with them in-game.

There are plenty of cool tools to help you with beating your high score and, as you get to know the game, you will handle the speed better and develop better strategies.

More information will be appearing on this site in the coming weeks as Quopples is unleashed to the world…so watch this space!