EXCLUSIVE -- Bejeweled, the addictive puzzle game that has turned gem swapping into an international pastime, is getting a new sequel, Games.com can exclusively reveal. PopCap Games is announcing later this morning that Bejeweled 3 will be unleashed on the world on December 7. God help us all.
Bejeweled 3 will still have similar gameplay to the classic Bejeweled and Bejeweled 2 games -- match three or more of the same-colored gems over and over again, while racking up huge scores -- but there will be a few additional game modes and features that will offer something a little different.
In addition to high-def graphics, new sound effects and the ability to match more than one set of gems at one time (a key feature that debuted in Bejeweled Blitz last year), the game will have a special Quest mode made up of 11 mini-games, a new Lightening mode where you'll have to match as many gems as possible in a certain amount of time, and four new 'secret' game modes, which you will unlock as you play.
One of the most interesting new additions is a special Zen mode (similar Bejeweled 2's Endless mode) where you can play the game without end, as calming music and positive affirmations play in the background. Oh yeah, they went there.
"The challenge in creating a new version of Bejeweled is to innovate and keep it fresh and exciting without losing touch with the gameplay that millions of people love," says PopCap co-founder and Chief Creative Director Jason Kapalka.
The new Bejeweled also has a badge system, with some of the badges reserved for the most elite gem matchers.
Bejeweled 3 will be available for in retail and online for $19.99, starting December 7. Bejeweled games are popular on both Facebook and Apple's iOS platform, but for now, Bejeweled 3 will only be available as a downloadable PC game.
If you're wondering if it's worth the cash, just keep in mind that this 10-year-old game series is so popular that it has been played by a half-billion people for a total of 7.5 billion hours, and that older versions of the game sell at the rate of one copy every 4.3 seconds. Your 4.3 seconds might be coming sooner than you think, if Bejeweled 3 proves to be as popular as its predecessors.