Monday, 25 May 2015

Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition

I never really got into puzzle games. Aside from a classic like Tetris, which itself I find a little boring now (I know, I suck), I've always avoided them, especially when it comes to the ones on Facebook. Whether it's Candy Crush or Bejeweled or whatever, I just don't have the time, attention or interest in them. But sometimes games pop up on this blog that pushes me to try genres I otherwise wouldn't have gotten into. When pushed to review genres I generally don't like, I've been pretty surprised in the past at how much I do end up enjoying them. So, with that in mind, I sat down and played another game I usually wouldn't even give the time of day. So, how does it fare?

Developed by GungHo Online Entertainment and out now on Nintendo 3DS comes Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition, a game that proves, when it comes to hating puzzles games, I'm most likely a complete f*cking tool. It's kind of tricky review this game though, as technically (and as the game title kind of suggests) this is two games in one. On one hand you have Puzzle & Dragons Z, while on the other you have the the Super Mario Bros. Edition of that game. The Super Mario Bros Edition could be kind of seen as DLC in some ways, but both games are bundled together. Though their plots, characters and enemies are different, they essentially follow the same formula. I'll be focusing on the Puzzle & Dragons Z side of the game here mostly, though I will get back into the Super Mario Bros Edition a little later.

Puzzle & Dragons Z, which originally started out as a super popular smartphone game, works remarkably well on the 3DS. The gameplay is simple to pick up, but offers a great deal of choice and variety. In Puzzle & Dragons Z you take on the role of a dragon tamer, an unnamed character that you'll need to bestow a title to. The plot is pretty straightforward, and revolves around an evil group called Paradox. Led by a dude called Dogma, they intend on creating a new world, a world in which they can reign supreme. But the typical plot here is merely window dressing for the gameplay, as though it will keep you invested for around 25 hours, battling and evolving your creatures is where the game truly shines. During battle you interact with the game by using the touchscreen to line up a number of coloured orbs, in a small Bejeweled type mini-game. For an attack to be cast, you need to line up 3 or more orbs of the same colour, with more orbs causing more damage to an enemy/enemies. The orbs come in 5 different types- Light, Dark, Fire, Water, Wood and Heal. Each orb type is both weak and strong to other orb types (for instance Water>Fire, Light>Dark),  and through stringing up major orb combos, you'll end up levelling up your creatures, and in turn opening up new and powerful attacks.

Collecting and evolving creatures is incredibly fun too. After a battle you'll be given the choice of either getting the egg of the creature you just fought, or instead taking a computer chip. Collecting a creatures egg will allow you to hatch and train that given creature from level 1 onwards. Like Pokemon, creatures are incredibly unique, beautifully designed and really have their own personality. The computer chips on the other hand are used to evolve your creatures, and it's a very easy and highly worthwhile process. Evolving a creature will not only change their form, but also unlock new skills and abilities you you can then use in battle. Both of these processes are the absolute key to not only surviving and finishing Puzzle & Dragons Z, but also getting the most out of the game. Outside of combat you're able to explore 6 entire worlds, which are presented in a very classic JRPG perspective. Each of these worlds are filled with areas to run around in, and are also littered with various characters to interact with. I know it's something rather small to some people, but this nice little addition to gameplay adds a great layer of life and atmosphere to the game, which otherwise would have been purely consisting of wall-to-wall battles.

Then we have the other game in this combo, Super Mario Bros. Edition. Simply put, this is essentially the same game as Puzzle & Dragons Z, but without a real plot...impressive graphics.... surprising creatures designs....or interesting NPCs to chat with. It's basically the core game that was stripped down and given the Mario treatment. This leads to a game that just isn't that engaging, and ultimately comes across like a bit of a rush job. It's not terrible, but I found myself wanting to jump back into Puzzle & Dragons Z again in order to find some new creatures to train, rather than finish this Mario version. As far as I'm concerned, Super Mario Bros Edition is simply an interesting distraction from Puzzle & Dragons Z, and is ultimately a failure in terms of creating a new experience. Strangely enough it doesn't take away from the review score of the overall product, as Puzzle & Dragons Z alone is worth the price of admission.

Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition is successful mix of Pokemon and Bejeweled and gets a 4/5.


Denis Murphy

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