Puzzle games have gotten to the point where simply offering a matching system is just not enough. Titles like Puzzle Quest offer players incentive for matching the colored gems and that seems to be the only way to garner attention in this flooded genre. Tecmo’s latest puzzle offering for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 caters to this change with Puzzlegeddon. A game that on the surface looks much like everything else you have seen before, but when you dive into the full experience you realize just how complex and addictive it can be.
The core concept is simple enough. You have a grid that allows you to move blocks either vertically or horizontally to match up the colors. Once you have at least five matched up you tap a button to drain some power into each colored meter. This is where it gets more complicated. Each of these meters represents either a defensive or offensive system for attacking. These other combatants can either be AI controlled or human controlled online. Think of it as a strategy puzzle game and you get the idea. The gauges you fill up are your resources and you use those to attack or defend your base.
As you can imagine at first this is daunting. You never seem to have enough time to gather resources and attack until you get accustomed to what each one does. This is why I highly recommend taking a stroll through the in-depth tutorial that will give you the rundown of each basic maneuver. Once you grasp the system it quickly becomes addictive. I found myself frustrated at first, but the more I figured out what was going on the more I enjoyed it. This may be the game’s biggest flaw is that it requires a serious amount of dedication and time to truly appreciate what it does. This is not something most people are willing to donate to a downloadable title.
There are two core modes to the game and each one different enough to stand on its own. The standard single player game has you matched up against bots in either standard deathmatch or the traditional last man standing. Both are highly customizable down to AI difficulty and even map type. A cool aspect about this is if you die you enter what is called The Dead Puzzler’s Challenge where you compete in a small mini game that allows you to come back from defeat. Again if you dedicate your time to learning all the intricacies and nuances of the game, this can be one of the most rewarding experiences.
The other mode is quite different from the core game and actually delivers a nice alternative to the fast-paced style. It is called Poison Peril and instead of working to fill gauges this set of challenges forces you to think before acting. The idea is to complete the set of challenges in as few moves as possible. This causes many cases of staring at the board trying to contemplate which set to move where. I personally loved this mode as it beckons back to classic puzzle games that had to contemplating for several minutes at a time before making your move. Making through all the challenges will take some patience and skill, but the satisfaction for completing them all (not to mention the Achievement/Trophy) will really make you feel accomplished.
On a visual level the game gets the job done with clean presentation and some nice animations for the attacks. The biggest gripe here is that some of the text onscreen is simply an eyesore. Reading some of the smaller text, even a large television can result in serious eye strain. Sound effects and music are pretty average at best, but the visual presentation on this budget-priced title really helps it stand out from the pack.
Puzzlegeddon is a solid offering for the genre, and one that is fully worth recommending to anyone willing to invest the time it takes to learn the system. If you are a fan of games like Puzzle Quest where there is more than just block matching then this is a no-brainer. For $10 it is hard to argue the value of this unique experience. Especially when Xbox Live owners have the option for a demo to try before you buy. Another solid effort in an increasingly overcrowded genre; puzzle fans will be pleased.
Review copy provided by publisher.