There is a host of matching puzzle games on the market the most popular are “Bejeweled” and “Candy Crush Saga.” “Puzzle & Dragons Z” might not be a huge hit in the U.S. but it is a blockbuster in Japan now released on the Nintendo 3DS handheld but this time it has included a Super Mario themed edition of the game with some fun new gameplay mechanics. “Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition” isn’t just a mouthful to say it is a whole lot of a game to play, especially for die hard Mario fans.
Even though “Puzzle & Dragons” is similar to the other match three games on the market it’s different because the gameplay is more intricate and complex. It isn’t a hard concept, with the touch screen you drag colored orbs with symbols on them around and match them, creating combos. When you make matches it attacks monsters on the top screen. You also gain the ability to capture creatures and use them to your advantage.
Even though “Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition” is on one cartridge, it is two separate games, each with its own style. “Puzzle & Dragons Z” is very similar to a “Pokemon” game because you travel around a somewhat open world battling, capturing and training creatures to fight for you. If you played one of the previous games you will see several of the creatures are back and there are some new ones. The gameplay can get quite complex, you have to make sure you build the best team and manage your stats if you want to succeed. It isn’t as casual of an experience as most mobile match games. If you are looking for more of a challenge you will love this game.
“Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition” is essentially the same game but with a Mario theme. The top screen map is similar to “Super Mario 3’s” world map. All of the orbs start having Mario related symbols on them and the sound track is nothing but familiar classics from the Mario series. The colors are bright and colorful and there is a huge cast of obscure characters from series you will run into along the way. There is a ton of fan service for long time Mario fans even though it it is a very different style of game.
The “Mario Edition” is much easier for new players because it is more generous with continues even though some of the level bosses are harder then the base “Puzzle & Dragons” game. You have to plan out your team and make sure you have the right set up if you want to win, each character has his own ability. Yoshi can shift around the different types of orbs, but other characters like the paratroopers are vulnerable to certain attacks so you have to plan accordingly.
The “Mario” edition doesn’t have a ton of story but the “Puzzle & Dragon” game has a bunch of Japanese RPG story elements similar to watching Pokemon. None of these stories are too imaginative but they are a nice touch and add to the amount of content you can explore. The story is a bit cliché but it is self aware and the dialogue is quite funny. I didn’t know as much about the characters in this game so it wasn’t as engaging to me but if you like anime you might be really interested.
Overall “Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition” is a pretty good game for puzzle game enthusiasts. It has some elements of casual mobile games but with more of a complex challenge and an actual game world to explore. The base game is a fun game that is similar to “Pokemon” which is fun but the real enjoyable thing is the “Mario Edition.” It’s the same but “Mario” themed and jam packed with “Mario” fan service. If you are a Mario fan you will love the ascetic but this isn’t the typical “Mario” game so only check this out if the idea of a “Mario” theme puzzle game sounds appealing to you.
Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
System: Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone: Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes