Smack for Video-Game Junkies

User Rating: 8.5 | Puzzle Quest 2 DS
Fact 1: I played the living hell out of Challenge of the Warlords.

Fact 2: I tried to love Galactrix, but the finicky input recognition and load screens soured me.

Fact 3: Puzzle Quest 2 is the ****

Infinite Interactive seems to have taken fan input to heart, and the new Puzzle Quest is mostly everything I could have hoped for in a sequel. The new exploration perspective is great, weapons and gear actually matter this time around, and the mana system has been greatly improved.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of issues that sap the experience in a minor way. The spell interface no longer shows you the mana requirement by default (you have to slide the panel each time to see what the actual numbers are), the A.I. on the default difficulty setting makes stupid decisions at times, and sifting through your inventory can be a bit of a hassle.

On the whole, however, Puzzle Quest 2 is a better game than the first. Weapons and potions now require action mana to be used, and this small change goes a long way to balancing battles. The new spells and classes are really fun and interesting as well. For my money, though, it's the new navigation system that really opens up the experience in a big way. You're no longer moving from one major area to the next, but rather, you're exploring actual dungeons, looting, picking locks, and the variety of mini-games is huge -- all of them extremely rewarding and enjoyable.

The visuals are about on par with what we're used to seeing in these games. There's nothing to write home about, but the variety of still images is decent. My only complaint with the presentation, really -- if you could call it a complaint -- is that the sound effects aren't as enjoyable as the first game. The sounds are fine, but I miss the clanking that accompanied moving gems in the first game. Instead, you get a small crashing sound here. The music, though, is a vast improvement over Challenge of the Warlords. It's more subtle, and the output isn't always peaking like it was in the first Puzzle Quest.

If you're anything like me, you spent many 'a night before sleep playing a bit of Challenge of the Warlords. It was the perfect game for passing time or lulling yourself into relaxation. Puzzle Quest 2 is every bit as addictive and fun, and though the story takes its sweet ole time getting underway, the presentation has a nice, Diablo flow to it. I was literally jonesing for this game's release, and I'm very pleased to report it lives up to expectations. It's still not the perfect Puzzle Quest experience, but it's almost all the way there.