Posted 2 years ago By kingquagmire - David Collins
When Puzzle Quest released a few years ago, it proved to have a magic formulaic mix of both the RPG and Puzzle genres. So magical, that it eventually saw a release on every possible platform. Thus it comes as no surprise that Konami’s Puzzle Chronicles takes the same RPG/Puzzler approach, looking to capitalize on that successful formula. They say mimicry can (but not always) be the best form of flattery. So, should Infinite Interactive (developers of Puzzle Quest) be flattered or insulted? The answer falls somewhere in the middle…
You are a young hero, part of an outlying barbarian-like tribe of people in the lands of the Ashurin Empire. The game begins with your character taking part in a few rituals that not only bring you into adulthood, but double as the tutorial as well. Shortly afterward, your village is attacked by the Horned Deamon, resulting in you and all your tribesmen being abducted by slavers. After being bought and freed by a mysterious sorceress, you set out to free your people and hunt down the Horned Deamon.
Ok, so the story isn’t going to blow you away with innovation. Then again, most games rarely do now days. And no, the visuals won’t either. All the cut scenes are done in a still-frame style and the art direction has more than a passing resemblance to your average Saturday Morning Cartoon from the 1980’s. But, you do have to give them some credit though since the dialog and the voice-work both fall in-line with the same theme as the artwork, making the entire package come across as if it was made for 9-year olds.
While the appearance may seem geared toward the younger set, the puzzling itself has a bit more depth to it. First, for the uninitiated, as your character navigates around the land, he’ll be faced with multiple “battles”. Only the battles won’t see you button-mashing your way to victory. No, in Puzzle Chronicles, war is waged with the puzzle (hence the word “Puzzle” in the title). The gameplay consists of dropping colored blocks into the playfield and making matches of three or more (similar to Tetris). These blocks can take many forms such as damage blocks or multiplier blocks in addition to the run-of-the-mill colored ones.
The caveat here is that the playfield is horizontal, in lieu of the standard vertically-oriented puzzle space you all are accustomed to. To add an additional layer of change, the “floor” where you drop your pieces is dynamic. As you damage your opponent, the floor moves toward him, there-by shrinking the space he has available to place his pieces. The reverse is true as well, creating a tug-of-war effect throughout the battle.
The changes to the puzzle mechanic are fine and dandy, but those paired with the cheese-tacular dialog and visuals only set the stage for the RPG side of the equation. Naturally, your character will gain experience and level up as he does so. In addition to that, he has a pet (Warbeast) fighting alongside him. This mean-looking puppy can also be leveled up and he has various attacks of his own related to the colors of the puzzle pieces. As you clear specific colors, you’ll charge it up. Once the correct colors are fully charged, you can unleash the applicable attack.
As expected, your hero will find many different types of equipment during his quest, not to mention the fact he can craft like-items into a more powerful one. In fact, the amount of items you will find can be quite overwhelming…until you start to really mess with them. It didn’t take me long to figure out that these weapons, pieces of armor, necklaces, shields, etc... can seriously impact how certain battles play out. On the average, the items tend to modify the amount a certain colored block will show up in battle. Pair that with the attacks your pet does and you all of a sudden have a much deeper game than it initially appeared to be.
And it’s that layer of depth that saves this game from obscurity. In addition to everything else, there’s familiars to get, hidden areas to find, mini-games to play and treasure to seek out along with an open-ending that will allow you to go back and keep nurturing your hero and find more loot. Plus, your hero is persistent, meaning that he’s playable in both the single player and the multi-player parts of the game. If it wasn’t for this side of it, the bad script and the cartoon slide-shows would turn all but the most dedicated puzzle fans away, especially since Puzzle Quest is so widely available.
So, back to my original question: Should Infinite Interactive be flattered or insulted? Ultimately, that will be up to you. Puzzle Chronicles is by no means on the same level as Puzzle Quest. If you walk into it expecting that, you’ll surely be let down. At the same time, it isn’t a bad game either. If anything, for $10, it’s an adequate time killer until the upcoming Puzzle Quest 2 launches.
Download the Puzzle Chronicles trial here, or purchase it for 800 MP here. Or, if the Xbox 360 isn’t your platform of choice, it is available as a retail game on the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP, as well as a downloadable title on the PSN and Windows.
+ Tons of items
+ Surprising layer of depth and strategy
+ Similar to Puzzle Quest...
- Mediocre dialog pair up with poor cartoony slide-shows
- Battles can get repetitive
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Release Date : 2010/04/21
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Konami
Developer : Infinite Interactive
Category : Puzzle
ESRB : E10+
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