Just because it was fun on the small portable screen doesn't mean it will be fun at home on the big screen.

User Rating: 5.5 | Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords PS2
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords was originally released for PSP and the DS in early 2007. It's unique concept of adding light RPG elements to an otherwise standard puzzle game was refreshing and ensured it was well received by critics and the general public. Since then it has been ported to the PC, PS2, 360 via Xbox live, and the PS3 via the PSN.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords features a simple fantasy RPG story featuring orcs, elves, a spiteful god of death, and (of course) you saving the world. The story comes across in bits of written dialog between characters as you progress through the games main quests and in small bits of voiced narrative between chapters. On it's own the story is standard, simple, bland, and a poor reason to play the game. Chances are though nobody is expecting a game like Puzzle Quest to blow them away it's gripping story. You certainly shouldn't.

At it's core Puzzle Quest is what it's name suggests, a puzzle game, in this case it's largely a bejeweled clone. When your character does just about anything, engage in combat, forge an item, learn a new spell, ect you play a slight variation of the same thing. If you've never played any game based on bejeweled then I'll break it down for you. You have a large grid filled with gems which you and your opponent move around to create various effects in your puzzle battles. Creating a line of gold coins will net you cash for example, while lining up skulls will damage your opponents health bar. Whenever anything is lined up it's removed from the board, everything drops down, and random new pieces are dropped into place from the top of the board. Setting up combo chains when clearing pieces scores you big bonuses and becomes the name of the game. The basic idea is simple enough but it requires concentration and strategy if you want to win. That said there is a glaring flaw in the gameplay that forces you to rely on blind luck almost as much as your own skill and strategic abilities. The nature of the new pieces that are dropped onto the board when anything is cleared is totally random. When you consider that if you line up four or more of anything you get a free turn and if stuff happens to drop down that forms a line of three or more it combos until you have to actually move something again. While it's great when it's working in your favor, this also applies to your opponent and it's frustrating and feels cheap when random chances lets your computer opponent have five turns in a row that blow off half your life. You'll find that this will happen more often then you'd like. With that in mind there is no punishment for losing in Puzzle Quest, you just get booted back the the world map. After which you just try again, and again, and again until you finally win. To break this up the developers have included some light RPG elements to great effect. Your character gains experience during battle so he/she levels up as well as learning various skills that affect different aspects of combat. You also acquire gold and put it towards new gear to help out in your bejeweled style battles. On top of all that there is a castle to upgrade, items to be created, monsters to capture and learn from, party members to travel with, and fetch quests to undertake. If your not an RPG fan it might sound intimidating but it's really just a vehicle to get you to play the games slight variations of bejeweled over and over and over.

Visually Puzzle Quest is very simple, there are no poor animations, no fancy character models, no expansive environments to explore. Almost the entire game is spent on the puzzle screen which is nice and colorful. If your not then your probably on the large world map or one of the few sub screens like your castle. The only real issue to be found with the PS2 version of the game being reviewed is that at any given time there is usually too much on screen. Text is exceptionally small and after a couple hours playing the game you'll likely be left with the impression that continuing this game for too long might cost you your eyesight.

As far as the sound department is concerned Puzzle Quest is much like the visuals, very simple leaving you with little to complain about. What very little spoken dialog there is to be found is poor. The music however is actually rather enjoyable, most of it is rather quiet and gives the game an almost relaxing therapeutic feel. The only thing breaking up the music are the sounds of you or your opponents puzzle actions, most of which are pretty quiet as well.

It's obvious that Puzzle Quest was originally intended as a portable game and if you pick up any of the non portable versions of Puzzle Quest it would be best if you play it in small chunks. When played on the side or on the go Puzzle Quest is a very enjoyable time killer. However, if you play it for long stretches repetition will set in very quickly, followed by madness, depression, and a smell of fried eggs. Unless your someone with an OCD style attachment to bejeweled you might want to avoid the home console ports of this game and pick it up for a portable time killer. Not picking it up is certainly a good option too as there are many vastly better portable puzzle games you could be investing your time in.