Friday, March 13, 2015

3RM @ PAX East 2015: Puzzle and Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition

If you live in Japan, you are very much aware of the mobile game phenomena known as Puzzle and Dragons.  If you live in America, chances are you know very little about Puzzle and Dragons, but Nintendo and GungHo are working together to help spread the appeal to Nintendo 3DS gamers.  Puzzle and Dragons Z and Puzzle and Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition are both expected to release together later this year, and Nintendo was at PAX East showing off the Super Mario Bros. Edition in a short two-level demo.

What did we think? Check after the bump!

Puzzle and Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition is a Mario-themed adventure making use of Puzzle and Dragons gameplay mechanics.  Puzzle and Dragons is a puzzle adventure game in which players move tiles in order to match three or more of the same tiles.  Unlike other match-three games, however, the game has Role-Playing Game elements in the mix.  The player has a party of six characters to help them progress through each stage and battle enemies.  Each character and enemy has at least one element assigned to them, and each element has a weakness.  Fire goes to wood which goes to water and then goes back to fire, whereas light and dark are weak and strong against each other.  The point of each battle is to match the colors necessary to have those characters attack the enemies weak against the specific element for the most damage.

Moving the tiles from one place to another is not simply a movement of two tiles between each other; with each movement along the screen, the tiles touched shift along the path, allowing players to setup combos all while making one match of tiles.  This is particularly necessary if you want to defeat enemies in swift succession.  After a number of moves, the enemies attack as well, doing damage and occasionally causing other effects to the characters in your party.  In the two-stage demo, I encountered Dark enemies which immediately froze my only Light character, which only proceeded to start my downfall rather quickly.  Initially there are only the basic three elements, but the other two come into play later in the game.  Besides tiles of each element, heart tiles can be used to heal oneself, but be sure to match up an attack together, as well, if you want to cause the greatest effect.

The game feels rather unique, particularly with the RPG elements and tile-shifting gameplay mechanic.  Everything moves very smoothly, which is great for a puzzle game like this, and the aesthetic matches quite well with Mario’s world.  However, I cannot judge how the game’s difficulty will be.  I found the first stage to be a breeze, taking out all the enemies in very little moves, but on the flip-side, I was trounced by the second stage.  I suspect it will take some learning for the levels further in the game, but I found the game to be rather rewarding if not a little easy in its first stage.

Overall, I found the demo to be a solid introduction to Puzzle and Dragons gameplay mechanics, and with Mario involved, it will likely appeal to a fair amount of gamers when it comes out over here this May.

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