You may or may not be familiar with the mobile game Puzzle and Dragons by GungHo. If you’re not, let me break it down for you. It’s a “match-3” style puzzle game mixed with monster-evolving RPG. It’s quite interesting and there’s always something new to discover. You’re given one monster, which has HP, Attack, Defense and Recovery. As you progress through “dungeons”, you defeat other monsters by matching tiles to unleash attacks. Sometimes these monsters will drop and be added to your pool of monsters. They can then be added to your team, or use to level up existing monsters. There are a total of six different orbs that can appear in the matching portion of the game (water, grass, fire, light, dark, hearts), and doing so unleashes attacks of the same element. Moving the orbs doesn’t work like most games of the same variety; instead of being limited by moves or the space in which you can move orbs, you’re free to move the orbs anywhere you like on the board, only being limited by the time you have to move the orbs. This can help you unleash combo attacks, which can be brutal. But like all RPGs, you’ll eventually have to go back and farm for items in order to evolve your monsters and make them stronger. It can be tedious, but it works well in short burst sessions. It’s probably the most well constructed free to play game there is. You can actually play for quite a while before your stamina runs out, and even when it does, recovery doesn’t take any longer than an hour or so. There is in game currency, which can be used to buy rare eggs and recover stamina, but GungHo gives them to you so often that it’s completely unnecessary to purchase them. What keeps you coming back are the daily dungeons and giveaways that are always new and exciting.
So, let’s talk about the new 3DS game that released on the 22nd (May). It’s a $30 game that includes two variations of Puzzle and Dragons. The first game is called Puzzle and Dragons Z. Mechanically, it works nearly the same way as the mobile version, with a few variations. Monsters now drop in eggs, which you can then choose to hatch or use to level up other monsters. When you do hatch a monster, it isn’t [typically] the one that dropped. Instead, everything reverts hack to it’s primitive form and has to be evolved up. That’s not how it works in the mobile version. To evolve a monster, you have to hope that monster puzzle pieces drop and they’re what you need. Like the mobile version, there’s no real guarantee that what you’re looking for is going to drop. However, in this version, your monsters gain experience from battle and do level up that way. It makes it a little easier to prepare for harder dungeons when the drops aren’t that great.
The game actually does have a story mode, which sounds and feels a lot like Pokemon. Your character is joining the ranger academy and getting neat little monsters when an evil organization, called Paradox, is setting out to split the world into pieces… literally. Puzzle pieces, to be exact. So, you have to traverse dungeons to restore order. On one hand, it’s kind of childish and corny. On the other, it’s nice to actually have a reason to be doing things rather than just going about. So far, it hasn’t been too difficult… but I can tell that the difficulty level is starting to spike. I hope that the drops in the game at least help me keep up.
Now on to P&D: Super Mario Bros. Edition. Same idea as above, but Mario themed. You gain Mario enemies to fight on your team, along with Mario and Luigi variations that have different abilities. Same old story, Bowser captures Peach and you have to save her. The game is set up like a typical Mario board, where you play from one stage to the next. There are boss battles at the end of each world, just like a typical Mario game. I’ve actually died a few times in this game, but my drops haven’t been that great. I’m not exactly wowed by this version though. Something about it just doesn’t feel as good as the Z version. It’s as if Mario and crew were just slapped in here to sell an unfamiliar game.
Overall, it’s decent. There’s definitely a few trade-offs between the two versions (mobile and 3DS). While I like looking forward to daily incentives, free stuff, and better drop rates… I can’t seem to put the 3DS version down. I’ve played for hours this weekend without realizing how much time I’ve invested. I prefer the tweaked mechanics of the 3DS version just a little more. If you’re looking for something straight-forward to play here and there, then you should play the mobile version. If you’re looking for a pretty neat 3DS game to hold you over and kill loads of your time, while being presented like a Pokemon game, then try P&DZ/P&D:SMBE.