8.1

Combing two unlike elements, this game showcases that they can mix and suceed at it.

Combining two unlike things, such as puzzles and RPG elements hasn't been done before very much before so it is definitely refreshing to see such a new concept being exhibited finally. At the beginning, you might think this premise wouldn't work.

Puzzle Quest for both the DS and PSP allow players to take the role of a character of their choosing. There are multiple classes with focuses on different attributes. After choosing a class and gender and name, you are placed on a world map. The game seems very odd but you would think it was an RPG at first solely because of the avatars and the cities and maps. What sets this game apart from others is that the form of the battles, take place as puzzles. Head to head, you battle against monsters and other people trying to beat them before they beat you. To do this, you have to line gems 3,4, or 5 in a row. If you can pull of 4 or 5 in a row, you get an extra turn and sometimes, you can get crazy combos where you can go 5 times in a row. I've lost more than a few times because of this but it takes a lot of strategy to pull it off.

There are mana gems, skulls, gold and experience. You actually level up from defeating monsters and doing quests making your character better. You can then improve skills and make your guy better at red mana abilities and so forth. The mana is so useful because you can use the colours for abilities to stun players or get extra turns or do damage. To add to the amount of variety in the game, you can also take over other towns who then have to pay you when you visit. You can also capture monsters and learn their special abilities and you can even craft items from runes and buy items at shops. You even have equipment and the list goes on and on. This game has so many RPG elements, it is totally engrossed to the point that if you like RPGs, you should like this game even if you're not a big fan of puzzles.

The graphics aren't great but they are pretty standard. There aren't too many animations but the map looks good. When the characters are talking to each other, they don't move or blink, which is too bad. At least in Fire Emblem, they blink. One thing I do have to disagree with in the Gamespot review is the issue of clarity of the gems. I never had a problem identifying which gems to line up so I'm not sure what they are referring to but I haven't played the PSP version either so I don't know if that version seems crisper.

The story in the game isn't too, too long but you can play it multiple times making different choices that impact your story and there are over 100 side quests. Sounds are okay but the main porblem I had was some of the battle music. One of the tracks sounds very slow and boring and yet you are battling a gigantic orc how is trying to axe your face in. It doesn't seem to set the tone well but other than that, the music and sounds of gems are quite adequate.

I got the game for thirty dollars Canadian and it was definitely worth it. I've lost quite a few hours to the game already and probably many more to come. If you like puzzle games, or RPGS, or even both, you should definitely give this game a go and see what sticks. You won't be disappointed especially at that price point.

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