PAX East 2015: First Impressions — Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition

Believe it or not, there were two different display areas for the upcoming Puzzle & Dragons game at PAX East—one was a typical demo at the Nintendo booth, but there was a second, massive demo area featuring character photo ops with Mario & Luigi at another booth deep within the convention floor. It made for a lot of fun, and certainly upped the appeal for a newcomer like me to the Puzzle & Dragons game series.

The new Puzzle & Dragons game will be launching as a dual-game release, with a Super Mario Bros. Edition that plays basically the same as a regular version of the game, just featuring the familiar names and faces from Mario game titles.

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Enemies are faced in this game in turn-based battles using “match-three” puzzles, which is an immediate potential for addition when it comes to someone who enjoys puzzle games. Ahem. Completing a combo launches an attack (or multiple attacks) on an enemy to deal damage. Combos will chain attacks, though for a first-timer, most of this is a lot of guess work until getting the hang of it.

Why would anyone need to “get the hang of” matching? The mechanics in Puzzle & Dragons is a little different that other matching games—instead of simply swapping neighboring orbs to create your match, you can drag an orb for a limited time across the entire screen of orbs to create multiple swaps and chained combo attacks.

It takes practice (and the booth demo folks attested to this) to get used to seeing those matches and making it happen, but the reward of chaining multiple combos is where the addiction-level sets in… it’s wholly satisfying to get a 5-combo attack, whether you meant to or not, because it also adds purpose to the puzzles instead of simply solving a match game with the reward of another match game. Learning how to master the matching process is fun, because you’re still playing the game, only discovering how to create more damage in each turn instead of getting bored by repetitive gameplay.

The Super Mario Bros. Edition has a world map that’s 2D, like favorite Mario games, and you’ll battle Goombas, Boos, and so forth. Mario and friends can get power-ups like Fire Flowers to help battle as you match orbs. It’s fun, but you’ll recall that I mentioned a dual-release game. This is where it gets either more or less appealing for folks… because the price will be a little higher than expected for a puzzle game. Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition will be released as a package set with Puzzle & Dragons Z, both games on one cartridge, for $40.

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Here’s the important part—Puzzle & Dragons Z is a full JRPG game, which justifies the price tag, but what if you’re only interested in playing the Mario version? Unfortunately, it’s not available solo right now, though it’d be a perfect title to offer as download on the eShop.

After my experience with both games at both booths, I’m willing to wait for a sale and shell out a little more for the dual-package—and hopefully there will be a demo released for other folks to try out before release.

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Faith
Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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