Bad news for those of you recovering from the horrors of Puzzle Quest addiction: You're about to have a relapse. D3 was showing off the latest version of the upcoming Puzzle Quest: Galactrix at E3 2008, and we were able to get our grubby little hands on the puzzle-adventure game that will no doubt be the cause of many sleepless nights.
Like the original Puzzle Quest, Galactrix will have a story mode. However, the developer isn't ready to spill the beans on it just yet. We do know that the game takes place some 20,000 years in the future, a time when outer space is no longer the great unknown and different alien species are a common sight (and by the looks of it, a problem). The game that we played in Quick Battle mode was against one such alien.
Gameplay feels both familiar and new. The square playfield is now circular, but it's still filled with multicolored (now hexagonal) pieces that you move together to form like-colored rows of three or more. Rather than new tiles coming up from the top to replace cleared tiles, they now come from all sides of the playfield. The direction is determined by how you move your tile when forming a row. If you move it from left to right, the new pieces come from the left. If you move diagonally from the upper right to the lower left, they'll come from the upper right. You're not likely to be concerned with this nuance at first, but once you become more accustomed to how tiles move, you'll realize that you're now able to chain up to seven tiles together, which will give you a huge advantage over your opponent.
The basic goal is the same: Be the last one standing. You can deplete foes' health by putting together rows of mines, or by attacking with one of your ship's special abilities, which are powered by the tiles that you've cleared. You'll be able to skip the other player's turn, deal massive damage, or inflict recurring harm to them. Rather than attack, defense-minded players might choose to shield their ship or simply horde cleared tiles for an emergency.
Regardless of the level of your aggression, the special moves that are available to you are determined by how many slots your ship has available. Smaller ships might have just three spaces, whereas larger craft will have five or more. Why wouldn't you just use the spaceship with the most open slots? There are several reasons. For one thing, you need money, and money is earned by transporting goods from one planet to another. A ship might have a lot of available special slots, but might not be able to carry much cargo. Each ship is rated in categories such as weapons, speed, and shields, so you'll have to decide what aspect is most compatible with your play style. If your battles tend to drag on and you take a lot of damage, a ship that has a strong shield rating might be a good idea. It's also possible that you may not have the plans for a larger ride, at which point you'd have to make do with you have.
Our time with Galactrix was all too brief and left us with a lot of questions. How many different kinds of pilots will there be, and what effect will they have on gameplay? How will diplomacy be handled? How many ships are there in the game? And finally, where's the PSP version? The game is currently listed for release only on the Nintendo DS, Xbox Live Arcade, and PC.