I was in the market for a new DS game last week. I’d pretty much got to the end of the enjoyment curve with Portrait of Ruin, which whilst an excellent game, is plagued by near-vertical difficulty spikes that my patience and tenacity can only tolerate for a finite amount of time. I toyed with Brain Training again and tinkered a little with Mario and Luigi: Partners in Time (which is my wife’s - she’s completed it but I’ve only ever dabbled), and I’m looking forward to picking up the excellent Elite Beat Agents sometime once a friend has finished with it, but I had a hankering for something new. Specifically a puzzle game, a genre I haven’t really tackled for a little while.
Puzzle Quest fit the bill nicely, having had some decent reviews and being a little more inventive than some others out there. It’s basically “Bejewelled RPG” which isn’t as crazy as it might sound. The core mechanics of Bejewelled are there (match 3 or more in a line, trigger cascades etc) but you’ve got the extra strategic element of spells / abilities that can be used based on the amount of certain coloured gems that have been collected, items which give benefits and the like. Often it’s about figuring out how to deny your opponent access to certain things rather than getting what you want - for example you might ignore the opportunity to increase the colours you need to use a certain ability in favour of stealing the gems that your opponent could use. The whole thing is wrapped up in a traditional fantasy world with a main quest and lots of little side quests branching off from it, all of which give you a contextual background for beating up monsters by matching icons. Sounds silly, but it actually works really well and is surprisingly addictive. If only I could get that music out of my head now….
In other gaming news, I’m finally on the last section of Zelda: Twilight Princess after around 45 hours play spread over almost 3 months. It’s a fantastic game - a little easy maybe but given my grazing style of gaming that doesn’t matter so long as the experience is engaging and refreshing, which it is. I also picked up TrackMania:Nations, the free online-only version of TrackMania - and I’ve generally enjoyed it although the community-designed levels are highly variable - some people obviously go a bit nuts and create tracks that require an utterly perfect zen-like control over your vehicle to have a chance at seeing the finish line. One screw-up and you’re back to the starting line, so if you’re fairly new you’ll end up spending most of the race time trying to perfect some early sections only to hit another ruthless section later on. Rinse, and repeat. I normally end up cursing and turning it off after half an hour or so, but the fact that I do keep going back to it is telling. The training tracks which are designed by the makers Nadeo are generally more sane, and the car physics and control can’t be faulted so I may end up buying the proper game at some point.
Lots to play, so little time. This is why I don’t need a 360 or PS3 just yet. 😀