I might be a fake casual gamer girl, but I’m a connoisseur of match 3 games since way back in the day. No shame, no regrets. Bejeweled 2 was the last of the really great old-school match 3s. I’ll tell you why!
Match 3 games, at their core, are just about matching and watching the matches, watching stuff fall and maybe cascade into more matches or blowing up and stuff. It’s a simple pleasure, and it’s a kind of game that’s always fun. It doesn’t require you to be in any kind of special mood, you don’t have to not be tired so your reflexes work, you don’t have to grind or farm. It’s just matching, and trying to get as far as you can until you can’t match anymore, then starting over. I love hardcore platformers and RPGs and all kinds of other more particular games, but Bejeweled 2 fills the gaps when I don’t want to play anything else.
What do I mean by “old-school” match 3? After Bejeweled 2, match 3 games started doing other crazy shit. They started letting you slide gems all the way across a line or column instead of forcing a match right next to it, which made these kinds of games way easier. Just a little bit of challenge is important; this isn’t They Bleed Pixels but it needs to not be completely mindless.
Games like Puzzle Quest and its sequels added rpg mechanics, but then you’re spending time in menus (i.e., not matching things), and plus the computer cheats in that series and it’s very frustrating. Match 3 games aren’t about frustration and menus, they’re about matching.
Candy Crush is designed by the devil, and plus it sucks anyway. Weird, offputting graphics, flat boring sounds, candy gems that fall too slowly and match in strange ways, arenas that aren’t a simple square anymore and instead have holes and other bullshit going on. Easily the worst match 3 I’ve ever seen.
Come back to Bejeweled 2. If you add it to your collection, you will have something that will never not be fun, forever. The gems look good, matches sound nice, after a match the gems fall really quickly, nothing about this game is designed to get in the way of just pure matching and watching. It’s very satisfying.
Protips: Pick a gem type that you’re going to ignore as much as possible. Just don’t match them until you have no other options (I like red for this). Then you always have extra cascades happening from the surplus, and you’ve got a store of gems to draw on when you feel it getting close to No More Moves.
When you make a bomb gem or a hyper cube (match 4 or 5), resist the urge to use them right away. They can really help in later stages, when the game isn’t being so generous with dropping things in nice orders, to shake loose some more matches. Just be careful not to accidentally blow up your hyper cube! That always sucks.
Try to keep your matches low on the board. If you match up high, you’re eliminating the possibility of cascades from stuff above you getting shuffled around.
There’s some RNG involved. Part of the reason games went to letting you slide all over the row/column (or like Puzzle and Dragons where you can just put it wherever the heck you want) is that after a while, it will become impossible to make matches. Sometimes you can get really far, sometimes not. But Bejeweled 2 isn’t designed to be played forever. Just start again if you like, or go do something else.