While it may seem bizarre that wizards could take out armies of plague rats through a game of matching colored pieces together, that is exactly the premise of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. Thankfully, the crazy spin on what is at heart Bejeweled offers up a great portable time-killer and one of the most unique game play experiences offered so far this year.
Using the touch screen, players can switch the positions of two pieces on the game play field while in battle. Aligning three similar icons will remove them from the field and grant players with elemental mana to cast spells, extra experience points, gold to buy enhancement items and direct attacks to the opponent’s hit points. Battles are turn-based so Puzzle Quest requires players to think multiple steps ahead to avoid running into a situation that benefits the opponent.
There is actually a lot for players to do, all built around the extremely simple premise. A storymode features an overhead map, shops, quests and different territories to navigate across, a single-player mode that allows players to jump straight into a CPU match and wireless multiplayer for two players that deceptively offer up hours upon hours of game play. Much of the charm in Puzzle Quest is in the individual characters a player raises and outfits as they level up through the course of the game, and with all of the item options, experience to gain and strongholds to build, the replayability of the title is near limitless.
This lasting appeal and unique play on what is one of the world’s most popular casual games really gives Puzzle Quest its bang for the buck. While, very fortunately, the title holds up strongly in the game play department, it isn’t as polished as a number of other DS titles, most notably in its weak sound and repetitive, generic music.