Double impact


  • TECH
  • Monday, 08 Jun 2015

1 Simple fun: Match orbs by dragging them across the screen to attack enemy monsters in Puzzle & Dragons Z Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros Edition. 2 Defeated enemies drop puzzle pieces of their own, and they’re used to evolve your menagerie in a simple mini-game. Photos: TNS

Match colourful orbs and manage a growing roster of allies in two fully featured games.

You may come up short of breath trying to say Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros Edition aloud. The bundle, which includes an enhanced version of GungHo’s blockbuster game and a Super Mario-themed variant, is an incredible value for match-three enthusiasts, offering a pair of games that easily stand on their own.

The overall mechanics in Puzzle & Dragons are simple: match orbs by dragging them across the screen to attack enemy monsters. If you are able to generate long combos, you deal more damage than simple matches.

Both games share a basic ­skeleton; orbs are the same colours, you capture and upgrade creatures, and leaders with passive skills and allies with active abilities are ­present in each game.

As GungHo demonstrates, ­however, that framework leaves plenty of room to create a pair of games with individual identities.

Puzzle & Dragons Z adds a Pokemon-style overworld and a ­narrative to the original game. Returning players will notice that their favourite collectable beasts are back, but the upgraded system has been tweaked to support the ­overarching puzzle-piece theme (bad guys are yanking puzzle-piece-shaped chunks of the world off the planet).

Defeated enemies drop puzzle pieces of their own, and they’re used to evolve your menagerie in a simple mini-game.

Defeated foes also drop eggs, which are hatched at your ­headquarter. It’s a little annoying to have to trudge back home to see what they contain, but the ability to fast travel minimises the hassle.

2 Defeated enemies drop puzzle pieces of their own, and they’re used to evolve your menagerie in a simple mini-game.
EASTER EGGS: Defeated enemies drop puzzle pieces of their own, and they’re used to evolve your menagerie in a simple mini-game. – TNS

The Mario edition replaces everything with the franchise’s familiar trappings. The on-foot action is swapped with a Super Mario 3-style map, the soundtrack is loaded with familiar tunes, and you’re joined by a growing squad of reformed villains.

The game is generous with ­continues, and its lack of free-to-play elements means that you can keep trying to beat trickier sections without worrying about paying or waiting for a bar to recharge.

And both games do get tricky, with enemies spewing a variety of status effects that require on-the-fly strategy changes.

I’ve been a fan of the original Puzzle & Dragons since it came out, and I think it’s finally met its match.

The stories are a bit childish, but the games are so good – and free from long-term paywalls – that I may be able to finally free up some space on my iPad. – Game Informer Magazine/Tribune News Service

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