Facebook Game Face-off: Ruby Blast vs Bejeweled Blitz
The OG of modern match-three games has met a new challenger. Zynga recently released its answer to the growing trend of puzzlers on Facebook, Ruby Blast. Admittedly, it takes cues from a number of predecessors, namely PopCap's baby, Bejeweled Blitz. (Even more specifically, Bejeweled 3's Diamond Mine mode.)
What better time than this to bring back the Facebook Game Face-off? For those that don't know how these go down, allow us to explain. We stack each game up based on three loose criteria (i.e. which game has the cooler power-ups) and decide which game does its genre better justice. But of course, that's ultimately up to you, the players. Ready? Fight!
The Bombs Bursting in AirThe explosions. The power-ups. The flash factor. If a match-three game doesn't nail these, then it's not doing its job. Let's start with Ruby Blast: This is the first game from Zynga to utilize the latest in Flash 3D graphics technology, and boy, does it show. Power-ups like Nova Flare explode in bursts of purple fire, while boosts like Star Fall cascade with glittering yellow dust. Add the fact that you can use up to three power-ups as often as you like in each round, and Ruby Blast is onto something.
Bejeweled Blitz takes a more conservative approach to how it lets players use power ups, with limited usage per purchase, but more than makes up for it in special gems. From the electric Hyper Cube to the kitty laser-laden Cat's Eye Gem, PopCap knows how to wow the eyes and make you laugh in the same breath. Though, it would be nice if we could see these hilarious boosts more often. But then again, would that draw away from the novelty of it all?
Facebook Game FrenemiesRuby Blast, like any good match-three social game, includes weekly leader boards. But Zynga takes that more than one step further, dangling your friends' superior scores in front of you at every opportunity. (In fact, Zynga seems to think it's a fine way of getting you to pay up.) A neat thing that Ruby Blast does, however, is offer prizes to the top three players. An even neater thing is friend gems, which create drills to help you score extra time. With real-time multiplayer in the cooker, Zynga could eventually take the cake here.
PopCap basically solidified the "Blitz" model of Facebook gaming as a sub genre, so it's important to give credit where it's due. That said, Bejeweled Blitz allows players to directly communicate with one another within the game through Jewel Jabber. It's one thing to beat your friends' scores, but it's another entirely to rub it in their faces. Until Ruby Blast seals the deal on real-time multiplayer, Bejeweled Blitz might have the upper hand.
The Fun FactorAh, the ultimate measure. Ruby Blast keeps the tension high with the ticking clock and fast-paced clicks to destroy groups of gems to flashy fanfare and vertical movement. Watching stars fall, bombs go off and novas flare with overladen particle effects is a sight to behold in a Facebook game. If you're out for a match-three game with lots of movement and demand for furiously fast fingers, then look no further than Ruby Blast.
Bejeweled Blitz, on the other hand, is a far more nuanced match-three experience that somehow doesn't skimp on the flashiness. Matching gems in this game is more about setting up combos--sorry, cascades--and timing when to unleash them. That's all against a ticking clock, of course. For players that pride themselves as more cerebral than frenetic, perhaps Bejeweled Blitz is your jam.
The Epic ConclusionZynga has taken some excellent notes from the best match-three games on the scene and fused otherwise dissonant concepts into a single game rather successfully. Ruby Blast is somehow even more accessible than its competitors, but sacrifices some of the strategy found in, say, Bejeweled Blitz. Speaking of which, PopCap's match-three offering requires a bit more finesse while incorporating the developer's trademark humor and irreverence. So, while Ruby Blast will undoubtedly go on to achieve great success, it doesn't hold a candle to the quirkiness and panache of Bejeweled Blitz. But we want to know what you think.
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