Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords was a phenomenally successful game, both critically and financially.
When a game makes that many people happy, and more importantly makes that much money… you can be sure a sequel is in the works.
Can Puzzle Quest publisher D3 coax lightning to strike twice?
Full review inside.
The Puzzle Quest series is all about blending role-playing elements with a casual puzzle mechanic.
Case in point: The original game is a ‘sword and sorcery’ RPG where combat is resolved through turn-based Bejeweled play. The player has access to a Bejeweled game board, makes a move, and depending on what gems are matched, either boosts magical abilities and health, or causes damage to an enemy. If there are no good moves available, and you have enough magical power stored up, you can use a spell or talent instead of shuffling gems.
Galactrix is more of the same formula, but with slightly improved graphics, and… expanded.
The RPG portion of the game has more depth, although that’s not saying much, and the puzzle aspect has shifted. No longer are you simply playing competitive Bejeweled, the game board has become hexagonal… like Hexic (if you’re familiar with that title). Where Hexic had you matching groups of colors and rotating bundles of gems, Galactrix has you move pieces into matching straight lines. I guess you could say it’s somewhere in-between the two familiar games.
Also adding to the puzzle segments, different tasks require different gameplay styles and goals. If you’re mining an asteroid, you want to fill your ‘quota’ of matches without locking up the game board (similar to Bejeweled 2’s Classic mode), and if you’re hacking a jump gate you’ll be racing against the clock to fill your quota (like Bejeweled 2’s Action mode). In fact, it seems that everything you do requires a gem matching game, each with it’s own set of requirements. This gives you a reason to continue matching colors and is, in fact, a good thing.
Space combat is essentially the two-player competitive mode (directly lifting from the original game) and matches can do damage, add to your shields, and build power to use special weapons… it was good before, and it still works.
What doesn’t work are load times and convoluted map navigation.
Where the original game essentially kept you on one flat map, blocking off areas you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) access yet, Galactrix provides you with ‘leapgates’. Essentially wormholes leading to other galaxies, jumpgates need to be hacked (oops… there’s a minigame) before they can be used. Once activated, they lead to a separate map that shows available exit points. The top screen of the DS offers some guidance as to where you need to be headed, but I found it frequently confusing. Apparently the jumpgates don’t always lead in the direction you think they do.
I also mentioned load times, didn’t I? To put it bluntly, there’s no excuse for a cartridge based game to be taking this long to load content, and it loads a lot. As in ‘any time you click something’.
That being said, if you liked Challenge of the Warlords, you’re going to like Galactrix. If you’ve never played a Puzzle Quest game, you may also enjoy this title, but you might fare better with the original. The puzzle mechanic is much simpler in Challenge of the Warlords, and it’s infinitely easier to navigate.