The premise behind Puzzle & Dragons is simple, simple enough that a lot of people weren’t expecting it to blow up quite like it did. After climbing the app store charts and gaining international popularity, this small-screen game has made a quick and sudden leap to Nintendo’s 3DS with the Puzzle & Dragons Z and big-name crossover, Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition bundle.
The inner workings of Puzzle & Dragons are simple. You build a team of monsters, each a different color (element) and use them to work your way through dungeons, one monster pit stop at a time. In order to beat monsters and bosses, collect items and gain experience you need to harken back to the days of Bejeweled and line up same colored orbs, trying to get the biggest combo possible. That combo turns into the corresponding colored monster’s damage for the turn, get a combo high enough and those points will help unlock character-specific skills. Simple. Elegant. Addictive.
I first gave Puzzle & Dragons a shot in it’s original format, on my iPhone. I’m prone to obsession when it comes to games that rely on grinding and chance to unlock rare characters. I’ve sunk more hours than I’d care to admit into games hoping to see that perfect 5-star or S rank appear on my screen. So, I was really excited when it was announced that the Puzzle & Dragon 3DS game would be localized. I was also curious to see the formula they used to make the transition from micro-transaction’d app to fully-fledged game so successful.
In the case of Puzzle & Dragons Z, a Pokemon-esque approach was taken in order to flesh out the game’s story mode. You start off as a young boy or girl heading to the local lab to pick up their first dragon when a mysterious organization decides your world is a bit too peaceful. Your job? Well, you’ve got to stop their shenanigans of course. Queue the mad orb matching, combo collecting, skill using fun.
Over in Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition, we see how we’re getting our money’s worth out of this bundle. Nintendo easily could have tossed a Mario and Luigi patterned skin over Z and called it a day, but with P&D: Super Mario Bros. Edition, they surpassed that and managed to make a game that sticks to the same mechanics but has a completely different feel to it. From the classic story of a kidnapped Peach, familiar Mario World map, and well known enemies and sidekicks, P&D: Super Mario Bros. Edition feels more like a direct Mario spin-off rather than a crossover.
It’s probably worth mentioning that these two titles are the first games I’ve turned my 3DS’s 3D on for in a long time. The effect as you move down a dungeon hallway or have a slime enemy bounce “against” the screen as it attacks is subtle but adds a little something. The lack of constant camera or character movement works for the 3D functionality and doesn’t leave you with a headache for the rest of the day.
P&D Z + P&D: Super Mario Bros. Edition is my new go-to title for when I’m out and about. The amusement and hours of play time you’ll get out of this bundle is easily worth the $30 price tag. Plus, who doesn’t want to stick around and see a Puzzles and Dragons: Legend of Zelda Edition? Fingers crossed!