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I am a massive fan of puzzle games and I think that without a doubt this is one of the best puzzle games I have ever played. The amazing thing about this game is there are so many aspects to it. It isn't just the fun of playing the puzzles.
The gameplay of the puzzle is similar to that of a well known internet game called Bejeweled. The game grid is filled with different coloured gems. To win the game you have to switch two adjoining gems, in either a horizontal or vertical direction, in order to line up combinations of three or more of the same colour. In this case the jewels are called mana and come in the form of the 4 elements, earth, air, fire and water (green, yellow, red and blue). There are also extra items on the board like experience (purple stars) gold coins and skulls. The puzzles become battles where you face a range of interesting characters like orcs, harpies and even the living dead! Taking it in turns to switch objects on the board you battle it out. When you line up the skulls they do damage to your opponents health points (hp), and the first to reduce their opponent to 0 hp is the winner. To make things even more interesting you and your opponents are able to cast spells using the mana you have collected. Some characters can cast healing spells to increase their hp and others can cast spells that do damage to their opponent. The more mana you have the better the spell will work so it can become a challenge to line up the mana you need most.
Unlike the internet game which can become repetitive after time, this game keeps you constantly interested. It combines the puzzle with a strategy game and story-line similar to that of final fantasy. The game is set in a make-believe land where you start off as a trainee, learning to become a Knight of Agaria. The game progresses as you take on new quests, and the characters (in the form of speech bubbles) tell you the story. You make your way around the map of the land in order to face new opponents. Each time you battle you gain experience by lining up the purple stars on the board. This allows you to level up your character, to make them better during the battles, and unlock new spells to cast.
Even with all this going on, there is an extra element to the game. If you enter your city you can unlock mini games using the gold you collect along the way. These include capturing your opponents and learning their spells, and even training mounts. They all use the same puzzle format but with a twist. For example you must remove every item from the grid, defeat an opponent in a time limit or match up a certain number of each item.
OK so I bet you are asking, are there any bad points to this game? I suppose there are but as they are so minor they don't really detract from the fun you get from the game. The writing is a little bit small and can be difficult to read sometimes, but you get there in the end. Often it feels as if your opponent gets all the best moves and you none of them, but it really is just luck of the draw and you will find that now and then you get some really good moves too.
As I said before this is the best puzzle game I have seen for some time and if you are in anyway interested in puzzle games I really recommend it. It is the sheer number of aspects to the game that make it so interesting and once you start playing, it is very addictive.
The puzzle genre has grown in recent years, a problem resolved largely by the role the Nintendo DS played in innovating the genre. From churning out interesting new titles like Meteos or Magnetica to updating classics like Tetris, the DS is a puzzle-gamer's dream. Easily one of the system's best puzzle games, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords has now been ported to the Nintendo Wii.
The premise behind Puzzle Quest is an interesting one: the game seeks to meld traditional puzzle gaming with some very deep RPG features. The game is complex, and ought to be discussed in two main parts: the puzzle aspect to the game, and the RPG aspect of the game. The puzzle part is really quite simple and straightforward: the game plays out like the classic puzzler Bejeweled, where you must line up three or more gems of the same color to get them to disappear. The catch: you can only move any gem one space up, down, left, or right, and any gem moved must create a row or column of three or more like-colored gems. That is, if your move doesn't create a row or column, it is illegal and you are penalized.
The RPG elements are, similarly, pretty standard for any role playing title. Each puzzle is presented as a battle, where you're fighting somebody by using the puzzle elements detailed already. Lining up three or more skulls, for example, will directly damage your opponent. First to reduce his foe's HP to zero, naturally, is the victor. There's a variety of equipment and weapons to be found in the Puzzle Quest world, and all of them can be equipped to help out during battle. For example, the stronger your weapon, the more damage you'll do when you line up three or more skulls. There are also golden stars scattered throughout a puzzle board which, when lined up, give you experience, another classing RPG implementation.
But what about regular old colored gems? Far from useless, there's actually a lot of strategy in getting rows or columns of regular gems. Every time you line up, say, three red gems, they disappear from the board and more gems fall in to take their place. You get a credit for the amount of gems you removed from the board, called mana in the game. Depending on the class that you choose (more on that in a bit), you'll have a variety of unique spells at your disposal. Each spell has a specific mana requirement in order to be cast, and these spells, not the skulls, are usually the way to deal the most damage. So obviously, there's a bit of strategy in balancing skulls lined up, for small amounts of quick damage, versus saving up for some spells, which are more powerful but take longer to initiate.
The game essentially has you going out on quests, with certain objectives in mind. Naturally, you're attacked along the way (or more often, your quest involves attacking somebody else), and you initiate a fight. The difficulty level is unforgiving; even from the start, your opponents will be racking up long combos and dealing massive amounts of damage while you struggle to find a move within the time limit. Sometimes, the game seems downright unfair, with important pieces being placed in perfect position for the computer to make use of them; no such favoritism is ever shown to you, though. Still, in an era and on a platform of simple, dumbed-down gaming, hardcore gamers will likely appreciate the difficulty that Puzzle Quest brings to the table.
The Wii control is fairly straightforward and won't really be surprising to anybody who played the DS version of the game. Simply point at a gem to highlight it, then slide it where you want to move it. Aside from that, there's really no Wii-trademark control -- that is, there's no real motion control. No jiggling the remote around for extra damage. No symbol drawing to finish off your foes. Time and time again we've been shown the downfalls that come from injecting a game with a Wii control scheme that it doesn't really work, and luckily, the developers have taken notice and learned from that.
Another very neat addition to Puzzle Quest is that of a class system. There are four different classes to play in the game, each with their own special abilities -- mainly, the types of spells they cast. There's a decidedly different strategy for each of the four classes, and it's a lot of fun determining a general game strategy depending on which class you picked. In addition, the addition of classes significantly adds to the game's replay value. Each class plays in a specific manner, so it's entirely feasible for you to play through the title several times to really get as much as possible out of it.
The plot is also surprisingly well-done, particularly for a puzzle game, which seem to be notorious for their shallow plots -- or complete omission of any trace of a story. Admittedly, the plot employed by the creators of Puzzle Quest is rather cliche and pales against the likes of a well-developed, fleshed out story in a full-fledged role-playing title. Still, the story does a good job of holding everything together. There's also some decent voice-acting sparsely thrown in, which is always a plus.
The plot, however, brings up one of my two big problems with this game. Before I voice it, let me ask that you not laugh. I'm not kidding: the text in this game is pathetically small. I've got good eyes and can read well, but I honestly could not read the text in this game. Fearing it may be my 11-inch TV in my room, I rushed downstairs and plugged the Wii into the 30-inch TV in the sun porch. The problem was alleviated, but only slightly. The text was absolutely miniscule -- something I still can't get over. I'm sorry, but it's absolutely inappropriate these days for text to be unreadable in a game if you don't have a large-screen TV. So, for those of you playing on smaller television screens like myself, be warned: if you're going to want to get into this game as a result of the plot, you may want to take a pass, because it's going to be damn hard for you to do so if you can't see the words pop up on the screen.
Graphically, Puzzle Quest isn't all that impressive. Naturally, it's better looking than it's DS counterpart, but that's only to be expected. Of course, graphics are never that important in a puzzle game, but considering the RPG elements and the many conversations and environments you visit, it would have been nice to see a few cutscenes or something. No such luck, though -- we're given only pre-rendered backgrounds and still character models. The game doesn't look bad, but it definitely could have looked better.
My second big problem with this game is pretty much drawing everything together: the game is less than the sum of its parts. The Wii version of Puzzle Quest just doesn't stand up to other versions of the same game. The gameplay is fine, but control with the stylus works better. Graphically, this game clearly isn't living up to the obvious potential of the Wii. And at 30 bucks, why not just buy the DS version if you really want to shell out that money? It's a better game on the DS anyway, with the bonus that you can carry it around and play it whenever you want. While it's by no means a bad game, if you want to experience Puzzle Quest, you're far better off doing so on another system -- luckily, the game is also available on the DS, PSP, XBox 360, and PS2.
also posted on other websites such as gamefaqs.