Ground Control to Major Tom?!

User Rating: 7 | Puzzle Quest: Galactrix DS
Before reading this review, if you're wondering whether or not I played and loved the first Puzzle Quest for DS, the answer is yes on both counts. I'm still playing Challenge of the Warlords – it's just so darn addictive. And for the most part, so is Galactrix. It's a great, next entry into the series, with loads of fresh ideas, and the space setting is especially appealing to someone like myself who grew up on Star Wars and Trek. That said, Galactrix has a few basic flaws that impact the game in a pretty major way.

I don't want to waste your time by discussing how the game works and what the prose are all about. If you're unfamiliar with the game, there are plenty of previews out there. Rather, I'll try and share with you my impressions of each aspect of the game.

For one, the story, in my opinion, is a whole lot more interesting this time around. I didn't have a problem with the still images of the first game – and exchanges of dialogue in Galactrix are done in the same way – but the characters and story just felt terribly generic and cheap. Galactrix is more focused, and the plot is both eerie and interesting.

The gameplay is, in many ways, very similar to the first game. You make your way about the overworld map – in this case, a universal map – and fight enemies by way of match-three puzzles. In addition to combat, you'll also be able to mine ore from various asteroids, do some rumor gathering, and craft new parts for your spaceship(s). You'll also be required to hack portals called Leap Gates, which grant passage to the far reaches of space.

The low-gravity, hexagonal play board works great. It's a wonderful, new approach that will offer fans more great Puzzle Quest enjoyment that doesn't feel like the same old thing. The space setting, too, really adds a great, new dimension, and overall, Galactrix feels like a very different experience from Challenge of the Warlords. It's paced well, it's got a lot of neat features, and there's even more strategy and challenge than before.

That said, Galactrix also exhibits some fairly serious issues. The main problem being input recognition. The menus when entering planetary bodies are terribly small, and all too often you'll have to fight with the touch screen just to engage a menu option. Of course, that's nothing compared to the frustration of losing a battle or failing to hack a Leap Gate because the wrong gems swap out on you due to the touch screen misreading your command(s). These are not occasional problems, either; they're recurring issues throughout the entire game.

Still, I haven't been able to put the game down for more than a few minutes at a time. I keep coming back to it, and in many ways it's more addictive than the first game. Again, the story is compelling, the new puzzle gameplay is incredibly rewarding (when it works as it should), and the space theme will be a real boon for other geeks like me.

Should you buy it? Who can say, really? It's a game most Puzzle Quest fans will still likely love. However, it's equally likely to piss a lot of those folks off, since the first game didn't have these issues.

Which, by the way, I forgot to mention – though you've likely read plenty about it already – there are endless load screens. Shop? Load screen. Go into your inventory? Load screen. Talk to someone…you get the picture.