Some time ago, I heard of the Puzzle & Dragons games. It caught my interest as it featured match-3 style puzzle game play and turn based RPG action. While it took a while to get around to playing the 3DS Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition, I feel this is a game that could still grab some attention from certain players. With all that out of the way, let’s begin.
So to further elaborate, this version of Puzzle & Dragons is 2 games in one. The core game play of both Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition feature monster collecting similar to Pokemon, and match-3 style puzzle solving to attack. Interestingly, you have a small amount of time to move one orb anywhere on the board to set up the best combo you can trigger. This takes some getting used to, as moving the one orb rearranges the others it moves through. If you take out the enemy, you get experience towards leveling up your party of monsters.
Also of note is that many monsters that you fight do not attack every turn. Some take 2 or more turns to attack. Also odd is that the player’s HP total is the combination of the party’s HP. The monsters cannot be hurt individually. There are also skills that each monster has that can be used periodically to attack, heal, or change the orbs found on the playing board.
The basic idea for the game works well, and is about as fun as any puzzle game. It is nice to know there are some strategies you can pull off based on what monsters you have. The leveling and evolution system, for the most part is interesting too, though there are level caps on weaker monsters that haven’t evolved yet. Evolving monsters does require finding items that vary in rarity, and may require you to play really well to find.
Now, you might be wondering, what is the difference between Puzzle & Dragons Z and the Mario Edition? To be completely honest, comparing the differences is like splitting hairs. Both have the same sort of game play, but the Mario version has lives, while Puzzle & Dragons Z makes it possible to use skills more often. While the Mario version is sold to the player as more ideal for beginners, it has more difficulty spikes than Puzzle & Dragons Z. There are more enemies that take 1 point of damage from most hits, and many of those can take you out in one turn, when they eventually attack. This happens less in Puzzle & Dragons Z, but the final boss in Puzzle & Dragons Z is much harder than anything I saw in the Mario Edition’s main story (I still hadn’t beaten it as of this writing). It may be that the developers tried to counter balance the stronger monsters players could use and the lives system in the Mario game, but the end result was that the Mario version was harder throughout most of the play through.
There is one more thing I’d like to add about Puzzle & Dragons Z, and it would be the writing. Puzzle & Dragons Z has one of the strangest set of characters I’ve ever seen. Many of the villains don’t seem to have their priorities straight. They could be rambling about whether to wear shoes or sandals, or could be arguing over food with each other. These occurrences seem to be for comic relief, yet all but the two main villains act like this. You have to go through 5 major areas of this nonsense, as opposed to having only one villain that is weird for humor’s sake. To top it off, all the jokes fall flat because of this odd writing style. It is a shame, as Puzzle & Dragons Z has a smoother difficulty curve in comparison to the Mario Edition.
My last concern is that this is two games in one cartridge. Sure, either one may have been hard to sell by itself, but the end result is if you want to play both games fully, it ends up dragging on for too long. In other words, it could be too much game for the type of game it is. Puzzle games are best played in fairly short bursts, and shouldn’t require this much dedication.
So, here are some play recommendations if you pick up this game:
- You could start with playing either game first, as both have tutorials.
- Be sure to read descriptions of effects, and to tinker with moving orbs around the playing field to figure out the best way to play, as there is a learning curve.
- You may want to switch between the two to find your favorite. Stick with your favorite till you beat it, or at least get to that version’s finale.
- The Mario Version has more difficulty spikes, but the finale of Puzzle & Dragons Z is much harder.
- If you can’t get enough of this game, play both games, and play the Mario edition’s post game.
- If you really can’t get enough, find all the monsters in both games. The Mario edition has about 80, and Puzzle & Dragons Z has about 250, according to the box.
- If you are looking for a quick play, try the Colosseum or score attack modes to get a high score.
Here are the Pro’s and Con’s:
- Moving orbs and making combos is basic puzzle game fun.
- Game features adequate music and graphics.
- Monster skills add strategy and variety to how you could approach this game.
- Collecting and evolving monsters is an interesting endeavor.
- Puzzle & Dragons Z has a baffling writing style.
- Both games have oddly placed difficulty spikes.
- Mario has more throughout.
- While puzzle & Dragons Z has a steeper final challenge.
- Playing both games may lead to too much game play for a puzzle game.
So, what is the verdict?
7.3/10 Good, but offers too much content and odd difficulty curves.
And that was what I thought of Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition. But how about you? Did you enjoy this combination of games more, or less? Which of the two did you prefer? What part of these games frustrated you the most, if you had difficulty with it? let me know in the comments below!