|Dev: GungHo Online Entertainment|
|Release: May 22, 2015|
|Screen Resolution: N/A||Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes|
The secret to Puzzle & Dragons is proper team-building and mastery of gem combos. If you only make a couple of matches, like you're accustomed to doing with most Match-3 games, you'll do piddly damage. If you want to get very far in these games, you'll have to learn to make at least 3-4 matches per turn and have a team that's set up to multiply the amount of damage that it does per match. There are numerous ways to do this, from running a single-color team with a leader that multiplies one color's damage to a so-called rainbow team with a leader who multiplies damage based on how many different-colored matches you make. You'll ultimately need to have a few different teams at the ready in order to tackle the various challenges that the games throw at you.
Newcomers to the world of Puzzle & Dragons will probably want to start with the Super Mario Edition. It's light on story (in fact, the perfunctory “oops, Peach got kidnapped, go match gems to rescue her” story would probably be best left out entirely) and does a good job easing you into the Puzzle & Dragons mechanics. Your team leaders include various versions of Mario heroes like Super Mario, Fire Luigi, and several colors of Toads which are, in true Toad fashion, rather pathetic in comparison to the powered-up versions of the Bros. Your grunts are various Super Mario baddies like Goombas, Koopas, Thwomps, and Bullet Bills.
Only issue is that the staple of Mario baddies is a bit thin. Instead of the increasingly badass-looking dragons that Puzzle & Dragons Z provides as you evolve your team, Mario's developers were hampered by an apparent decision to only portray monsters in ways you've seen them in Mario games. Thus, while some evolutions make sense (Koopa becomes Koopa Paratroopa and Spiny becomes Lakitu), others are kind of silly, like a Blooper becoming a Blooper with a Cheep Cheep friend. On the upside, some Mario monsters have branching evolutionary paths, so you can choose to evolve a monster into a single-color powerhouse or a flexible dual-color beast.
You'll progress. Both games feature attractive graphics that make good use of the system's 3D feature. Everything in Super Mario Edition looks crisp and fantastic. The 3D art really makes the scrolling Mario backgrounds pop, and works great when a Giant Cheep Cheap leaps at your party to attack. Puzzle & Dragons Z is less impressive in general, but makes up for that with fantastic monster art. The elaborately designed monsters are often gorgeous to behold and have great pop-up book style animations.
Date: June 1st, 2015