Puzzle and Dragons is a smash hit. Released in 2012, it's speculated that one in five people in Japan play it and it's currently the second highest grossing game in the Japanese Play Store. So, why should you be interested in Android's answer to the Pokémon RPGs? Let me explain.
The first piece of the Puzzle
Puzzle and Dragons is a match-three-style puzzle title with an RPG twist: Candy Crush meets Final Fantasy VII, if you will. And its opening is very clever.
Remember at the start of the Pokémon Red/Blue when you had to choose one of your three starting creatures? Puzzle and Dragons begins similarly.
After you launch the app, and before you even download the rest of the game's content (a substantial – though unspecific – download size), you are asked to select a starting monster.
You gain an attachment to a character before you have the entire game on your device. I was terrified and impressed; it was like the first time I went to Amsterdam. But it only gets more clever.
Here be Dragons
This is how it works. You are in charge of a group of monsters (including dragons and other fairytale creatures) fighting through dungeons against a host of nasty enemies. In order for your creatures to attack, you must combine colored orbs from the field at the bottom of your screen.
Match an orb with three or more of the same color and that row or column of orbs will be removed. Monsters of the corresponding color or colors – should you match more than one type – will then launch an attack at your opponent.
The strength of these assaults is dependent on the number of orbs combined in each move.
I was terrified and impressed; it was like the first time I went to Amsterdam
Thus, the crux of the game is to optimize your arrangements of orbs and create the most damage to the highest number of enemies. But there are many factors at play.
Instead of attacking, for example, you may decide to combine heart orbs to regain health. Or you might simply move an orb into a space for a stronger offensive later.
The combination of strategy and reward is what makes Puzzle and Dragons so compelling. There are multiple considerations both before and during battles.
Whereas Candy Crush most often relies on the thought process: “What is the biggest number of candies I can match in one move?” Puzzle and Dragons provokes many more questions and offers greater rewards. More so, in fact, than most other Android titles I've played.
In Candy Crush, your prize for completing a level is that you progress to the next level. Puzzle and Dragons rewards you with another level and you can win more monsters and dragons to use in your next battle (or to consume to upgrade your existing team).
The combination of strategy and reward is what makes Puzzle and Dragons so compelling
And there are literally thousands of monsters. Of course, to use the rarest and most powerful of these does require grinding, unless you are willing to shell out for some in-game currency. But this is just the current landscape of free-to-play games.
The puzzling problems with Puzzle and Dragons
Despite Puzzle and Dragons many successes, it's not all great. One facet of Puzzle and Dragons which might put people off – aside from its weird name – is that it's basically impossible to lose a game for the first few hours.
Puzzle and Dragons offers more rewards than most other Android titles I've played
Yeah, no matter how you play, during the normal campaign it's incredibly hard to be defeated. There are Special Dungeons you can enter outside of the regular quest, which are harder, but you can get locked out of them after losing and then have to buy Magic Stones (with real money) to re-enter.
Without that challenge, even with the dazzling lights and wonderful monsters, your patience is put to test.
And though it initially gained extra points because the menu music sounds like Tina Turner’s smash hit track 'The Best', it swiftly lost points after I realized that listening to Tina Turner’s smash hit track 'The Best' on repeat is terrible.
If you're not put off by a simple learning curve, there is a huge amount to enjoy in Puzzle and Dragons. Trying to create the best team and apply the smartest strategy – to nab even more powerful dragons and monsters – will keep you coming back for more. Much more.
Give it a try via the link above and let me know what you of it in the comments.