Product Number: 226
It's amazing the journey some games take. How they can go from a little known titles to something that is soon available on most major platforms merely by word of mouth. Puzzle Quest is one game that has taken such a journey traversing its way from DS to PSP, 360 to Wii and now to mobile. Not bad for a game no one had heard of 12 months ago. And especially not bad for a niche puzzle RPG.
Part of its appeal lies in the way it blends traditional genres to create something new and fresh, that still finds time to give a nod to the games that inspired it. The goals are simple, match three of a kind in a row and keep going until your opponent is defeated, but the execution is carried out in a much more mystical way.
For one thing the blocks aren't just coloured circles. They're money, skulls and mana, all with different properties that affect the outcome of the battle. Collecting skulls does damage to your opponent, money can be collected for later upgrades and mana is stored for spells and healing. These spells can easy be selected in battle and help you change the rules of the fight or simply drain more health from your opponent.
The RPG elements continue further afield as well; cheesy adventure music, talking head cut scenes and even EXP leveling up all help add to the authenticity of the experience. There's even a basic plot (and a quick play mode for those who want instant action) and whimsical enemies to fight. It's all there, in a rather tight little package. Everything is simplistic in its execution, but there are lots of little bits that add to the flavour, without distracting from the core 'three of a kind' focus.
Downsides? Well for beginners it's nothing more than a game of luck. You try your best to get skulls together, only for your opponent to have the next turn and take opportunities away. Or you find the only piece you can actually move is one that will line skulls up for your rival. Half the victories I had were based on dumb luck, with my opponent missing skulls so obvious he deserved to perish. Fine for the first few levels but later foes are far less oblivious. So by that point you'll need to learn how to really play the game by thinking moves ahead and lining up several combos to get the results you need.
Puzzle Quest doesn't ever betray its RPG foundations. Sometimes this means the fights are tough and require genuine thought, but that's something RPG fans will be more than familiar with. As you learn more spells and fully grasp the mana system you'll soon find you are more than equipped to do the job. Success is just a few level-ups away (and if that doesn't sound like an RPG then I don't know what else to say).