PAX East 2015: IMPRESSIONS: Puzzle & Dragons Z + Super Mario Bros. Edition

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

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Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition | oprainfall

During my visit to Nintendo’s booth at PAX East 2015, I had a chance to play the upcoming Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition. That game was also available at the GungHo booth, along with Puzzle & Dragons Z. Both games are very different, and, since they’ll be released together in one package, I’ll talk about both of them here.

Puzzle & Dragons is a match-three puzzle game with RPG elements. The main gist is that the blocks you match up represent a certain element, and then the team of monsters in your party attacks with that element. Different enemies you face have different elemental weaknesses, and they can attack you after a period of time, so there’s a bit of strategy involved. There’s even a type of block that, when matched up, restores your HP. Defeating your opponent earns you experience points, and you can get new monsters to join your party.

Puzzles & Dragons Z - Battle Scene | oprainfall

In Puzzle & Dragons Z, this basic setup is turned into a full-scale RPG, with towns, inventory items, the works. During my playthrough, I couldn’t help but notice the likeness to Pokémon games, particularly X & Y. From the character designs to the town layouts and even the tone of the NPC dialogue, the similarities were stunning. As you progress through dungeons, the enemy encounters are played out as the puzzle battles in the original game.

Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition takes the standard formula from the series, but changes it to contain elements of the Mario franchise. Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and other classic baddies headline the monsters in the game, both the ones in your party, and the enemies that you battle. The gameplay is set up like a typical Mario game, except instead of each stage being a platformer, it is a series of puzzles. After a few quick and easy battles, a boss battle caps off the stage. Beating the boss takes you to the next stage. The enemies weren’t very difficult, but I only played through the early parts of the game.

Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition | oprainfall

Being unfamiliar with the original Puzzle & Dragons game, I found one feature unique to this match-three game as opposed to the others I’ve played. It has to do with how the pieces get swapped. Instead of just exchanging places between the pieces you select, in this game, as you drag the block with the stylus, it switches places with every single piece you encounter. At first, I found this to be rather annoying, but after using it for a while, I found I could make multiple chains by moving pieces into other areas, or even match three blocks that weren’t adjacent at all in just one move. It took some getting used to, but this mechanic opens the door for some new strategies to think about.

Personally, Puzzle & Dragons, being a mobile game, isn’t something I’d spend a lot of time with. However, with Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition being released on 3DS, on one card no less, I can see myself playing both of these games to completion.

About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.