Tuesday, October 9, 2012
There’s a game I don’t think about very often, but when I do I pick it up and play it an hour a day for a few days and then forget about it again.
It doesn’t ever really stick in my memory, but when I’m playing I always wonder why I don’t remember it. Every year there’s at least one game that tries to copy it, and somehow they never quite capture its magic.
It’s called “Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.”
The setup goes like this: You choose from a few different character types, each having (what else) a few special abilities unique to that type. There’s a map screen that only has a few places you can go at first but gets more and more complete as you play the game.
Each icon on the map represents a town, or a cave — that kind of thing. Each icon is connected to others by lines, and sometimes monsters hang out on these lines and attack if you meet them while travelling. Depending on where you are, you can buy items, get quests or fight enemies. Sometimes you can even try to take over the town!
Every single major portion of this, however, is a puzzle game. It’s not just sort of like Bejeweled, it’s exactly the same at first glance.
You have a big playing area filled with colored icons. You move the icons around by choosing one, and then clicking on an adjacent one. Line up three of them in a row and they burst in a shower of color and go away, with all the icons above them falling down to the now-vacated spaces.
There’s a million games that play just like this, and if you’ve played any games at all you’ve probably wasted a few hours with one.
So how does this work with all the items and monsters and things?
Well, unlike Bejeweled, you’re playing against an enemy controlled by the computer (usually, anyway). You have a health bar; your opponent has a health bar. Each of you is trying to drain the other’s bar to win the “fight.”
You make a match; your enemy makes a match. It goes back and forth.
Some of the icons are called mana, they come in a few different colors. Match three red ones and you get red mana.
Now, instead of moving a Bejeweled-like gem, you can spend this mana to use a special ability. Some abilities just damage your opponents health bar directly, some let you take a few turns in a row, and some give you a chance to heal damage to your health bar.
There’s more than just mana icons, too. Some icons give you money, some give you “experience” that will make your character increase in power, and some deal damage without any need for a special ability.
The basic puzzling turns into surprisingly deep strategy. And on top of all this, between fights you can manage cities, create new items of power to help with your fights, capture monsters and use their powers in battle for yourself. And all of this is based around a Bejeweled clone!
Puzzle Quest is deep but easy to learn. It’s a good game to try if you want to get your feet wet in the world of more complicated games. It was developed by Infinite Interactive, and published by D3. It is available for PC, Mac, PSP, Nintedo DS, Xbox 360, iOS devices, some phones and (supposedly) Playstation 2. It costs about $10 dollars, but possibly less depending on the platform.
Walla Wallan Noah Hinz is a tabletop and electronic games aficionado. A graphic arts student at the Evergreen State College, he’s working on various art projects and game designs. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.