For a significant proportion of the 25 million people who have purchased a copy of Bejeweled since 2001, it's probably one of the best, or the worst gaming experiences they've ever had.
It's not like the concept is really anything new, you could easily argue that Tetris has leached just as much free time since its release in the mid '80s. However, with the considerable assistance of the internet, Bejeweled has risen to the top of all-time pointless game titles with relative ease, having been downloaded over 150 million times. It's somewhat unnerving to think that two of the most popular game developers are ones barely referred to at all when envisioning the games industry - PopCap for Bejeweled, and Zynga, for the fingernails-down-a-blackboard simulator Farmville.
This latest update to the time-honoured concept of "matching three things up and seeing what happens" really hasn't altered the core values in any significant way. Where Bejeweled 2 dabbled with minor improvements to game modes, gem structures and various other tweaks, Bejeweled 3 has concentrated on aesthetic updates ahead of any real groundbreaking gameplay changes.
From the main menu, you can start with the classic mode, allowing you to partake in pretty much the same Bejeweled game that has been available on virtually every gaming platform for the past decade. You can play that for as long as it takes to grow weary of the "no more moves" loss condition, then move on to the new "Zen" mode, which is the no-fail alternate designed specifically to calm you to a point of near-catatonic stupor.
You can opt to include such new-age quackery as ambient sound effects, relaxing music and on-screen positive reinforcement to ease your mind and get in touch with your inner-self. Personally I think I'd clear the board faster listening to Motorhead, but whatever.
Happily, to counter this hippy nonsense, a lightning round has been included. You have a set time limit to clear as many gems as possible, which is a continuing trend when you move on to the final Quest mode. Here you'll be tasked with a variety of time-based challenges, such as clearing a certain number of gems before rising icicles freeze the board, or zapping "bomb" gems before they count down and explode. There's even a mining level that requires the lower row of gems to explode and reveal hidden gold, once again the time limit will usually prevent the completion ahead of any inconvenient gem placements.
In addition to the timed modes, you'll find a poker game that tasks you with matching gem combinations to win points, the "butterflies" level that requires you to prevent butterfly gem tiles from being eaten by a restless spider as they move vertically with each turn, and even a frustrating balance-themed mode where it's necessary to clear blue and red gems in roughly equal quantities to prevent being kicked back to the menu.
Some of these modes must be unlocked by progressing through the Quests, others form the basis of the Quest mode itself, and are rehashed with varying winning conditions the further you progress.
Add to this a healthy list of achievements to obtain - such as clearing fifty gems with one move, or creating a supernova gem, for example - and it's clear that Bejeweled 3 has attempted to move the series forward without breaking anything along the way. It's therefore a little surprising that there's no Facebook integration, particularly when Bejeweled Blitz has already proven it can be plastered into the vast social labyrinth with little fuss.
It hardly matters. If you've played any previous version of Bejeweled, then Bejeweled 3 consists of exactly the mental image you're formulating right now. PopCap know they can't fix something that isn't broken.