In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords

aka: Puzzle Quest HD, Simple DS Series Vol. 23: The Puzzle Quest - Agaria no Kishi
Moby ID: 27422
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Description official descriptions

As a citizen of the kingdom of Bartonia, it's your job to discover why the Undead have begun swarming all over the world of Etheria. In this RPG hybrid you'll be following the story of your character as they rid Etheria of the Undead scourge and save Bartonia, complete sidequests for extra money, experience, items and companions, craft your own weapons and armor, capture monsters for use as mounts or to learn their spells, and even lay siege to neighboring kingdoms in order to add them to your own empire. However, Puzzle Quest is an RPG with a twist. Everything is done (as the name implies) with puzzles.

Everything in Puzzle Quest is done with puzzles. The puzzles themselves are similar to Bejeweled in execution, with a few slight variations used for things like item crafting and enemy capture.

When fighting an enemy (which can range from zombies to orcs and even castle strongholds, each with their own special spells and abilities), you both take turns using the same board. The goal is to reduce your opponents hitpoints to zero, which can be done directly by linking up skulls in rows of three or more, or by using spells which require mana. To build up mana, just link three or more runes of the same color together, just like the skulls. Every time you gain mana, it's stored in your reserves until you use it (or are hit with a mana draining attack). Gold and experience are built up in the same way, using gold coins or purple experience orbs that occupy the same board and can be linked just like runes and skulls.

The real strategy behind the game comes into play when you factor in elemental mastery (gaining extra mana when linking runes for a specific element), equipment (which can prevent damage, drain mana and more), spells (which can poison, drain mana, stun and so on) and linking up groups of four or more. The reason groups of four are important is that every time a row of four-of-a-kind is created, you get an extra turn. While it doesn't sound important, getting four runes in a row could possibly give you enough mana to cast an extremely powerful spell and give you the extra turn to cast it before your enemy can even move.

There is also a direct action mode in which players can hone their skills against various opponents independent from the story mode, as well as wireless multi-card play where two players can square off using their own characters from the campaign mode.

Spellings

  • The パズルクエスト~アガリアの騎士~ - Japanese spelling

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Credits (Nintendo DS version)

76 People (72 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

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Producer
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Programming
Additional Programming
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Music Conversion
1st Playable would like to acknowledge and thank
  • Infinite Interactive and Vicious Cycle Software for creating the original PC game's code and art which was used in the creation of this game
Lead Designer
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 95 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 76 ratings with 2 reviews)

Great game, bad bugs :(

The Good
They've got a great combination of RPG and puzzle here. Good artwork, and overall feel of the game is a plus. It's a fun and new combination of these two previously uncombined genres. Works great as a portable, However, the PSP Version is plagued with bugs.

The Bad
On the DS platform, you have to use the stylus to select the gems to remove from the playarea, if you are playing on a rough road, or other bumpy surface you may accidentally tap/select the wrong gems. The DS version uses a "square" screen, so the playfield is slightly smaller. The DS version doesn't have as many colors in the artwork, and the sound/music is a little less.

While a little less colorful/musical, and you have to use the stylus to select could be seen as negatives, the DS version has a huge positive. The DS version doesn't have the game breaking issues the PSP does.

On the PSP platform, reproducible lockups, and overall big bugs made it through the QA of this game. There are many people reporting problems with their PSP copies of the game, causing Hard lockups(remove the battery), as well as overall big game features just not working.

Link to the support forum: http://infinite-interactive.com/InfiniteForums/viewforum.php?f=12

Example: 1 part of this game is collecting companions to help you with your quest. These companions impart special abilities to help you. Much dialog, and quests go into rescuing/befriending these companions, and convincing them to go with you on your quest. Unfortunately, in the PSP version of the game, even after recruiting them, non of them are able to assist you due to a software bug.

http://www.infinite-interactive.com/puzzlequest/faq.php

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there, many people discuss other issues involving reproducible lockups, not being able to utilize the powers their characters learn later in the game, and other problems.

The Bottom Line
People love the game, and that makes it's 'brokenness' on the PSP platform all the more disappointing It's actually raised a form of zealotry in the community, with some people using Youtube to document their reproducible crashes.

http://infinite-interactive.com/InfiniteForums/viewtopic.php?p=3565#3565

Only with a good game do you get people going to this amount of work to try and get attention from the games developers/publishers.

So again, Great Game. In my opinion, wait for the PC version(coming soon), or if you have a DS, go for that. Stay away from the PSP version.

PSP · by Nomad Wanderer (2) · 2007

A creative application of the Bejeweled puzzle game with a few minor kinks to work out.

The Good
Let's face it: everyone's played Bejeweled. Hell, even your grandmother logged a few hours on it. So if you don't know what I'm talking about when I say "This game is Bejeweled with RPG elements", go to Yahoo games and play it. Then make yourself a salami sandwich. Then come back and finish reading this review.

Everybody ready? OK. Puzzle Quest is Bejeweled with RPG elements. There's a storyline filled with royal people, giant bats, creatures possessing a variety of mythical qualities, and an unidentifiable evil that is, no doubt, plaguing the land. You get to earn XP, loot dungeons and crypts, learn new spells, train mounts, go on side quests, and do all sorts of things that you would expect to do in RPG.

What makes this particular RPG so unique is the application of the Bejeweled model. Each task that you perform in Puzzle Quest has its own little mini-game variant of Bejeweled attached to it. For instance, in order to learn new spells, you have to capture creatures. Capturing a creature involves completing a puzzle wherein you have to make sure every jewel is cleared off the board. Once that's done, you go into your dungeon and choose what spell (that the creature also possesses) you want to learn. This takes you into a mini-game where the goal is to collect a certain number of jewels of each color, plus a requisite amount of scrolls, which only appear when you match up four or five jewels in a row. The design of these diversions is very clever, as, although you're still playing Bejeweled, the experience of each task feels different enough to convey the impression of variety.

Regardless of diversions, you will spend a majority of your time with Puzzle Quest fighting monsters. The combat is well-thought out: you and your opponent take turns clearing gems off of the field, which, depending on their color, will earn you a certain number of mana points in the matching color. These mana points can be used to cast a variety of spells that you will earn throughout the game, producing a variety of effects ranging from damage to life gain to clearing rows or columns of the grid. Matching up skulls will deal damage to your opponent, while matching up gold coins and purple stars will earn you gold and experience, respectively. The combat is simple, but still requires an element of strategy and thinking ahead, as you'll have to give equal consideration both what your move is and what move you'll be leaving your opponent with afterwards.

The graphics do a good job of conveying a high-fantasy atmosphere, with characters and monster being represented by excellent hand-drawn portraits. The various effects and spells in the puzzle games are all the animation the game has to offer, and they do an adequate job of spicing up the experience. The game features some decent music and sound effects as well.

The Bad
My major gripe with taking Bejeweled and applying a competitive model to it is how frequently players (or enemies) will win a duel by sheer luck alone. As you have no idea what will drop down from the top of the screen when you clear out a few gems, planning ahead will only take you so far. And no matter how well you plan, your opponent may very well luck his way into a chain of six or seven matches and deal you a gratuitous amount of damage that you won't feel you deserved.

Even though the music in Puzzle Quest is solid, the game could stand to have a few more tracks in it. Considering some duels will take upwards of 10-15 minutes to complete, you'll cycle through most of the game's music in the span of that time. Multiply that by the (probably) hundreds of duels you will have to fight, and suddenly you're listening to the same tracks many, many times over.

Finally, the storyline of the game, although not terrible, isn't particularly memorable either. I found myself after 5 hours of game play not knowing why I was completing the current quest I was on or what the overall problem in the kingdom I served was. There's a large number of characters and a lot of side quests that could divert your attention for a significant amount of time, and when you come back to the main story quest you could find yourself at a loss to what exactly is going on.

The Bottom Line
Puzzle Quest will be a thrill to puzzle game fans who are looking for an endeavor that will keep them busy for a while. The creative use of the Bejeweled mechanics and the RPG elements found in the game really help to make it better than the sum of its parts. RPG gamers might be a little more hesitant to delve into this one, since the story and characters aren't particularly interesting. Still, in spite of a few hiccups, Puzzle Quest is a unique experience for any gamer looking for something a little bit different.

Windows · by The Cliffe (1552) · 2008

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Puzzle Quest appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

PC Version

Because there initially was a Windows demo, but no full PC game released along with the other platforms, Steve Fawkner (CEO of developer Infinite Interactive) received at least six death threats and one bomb threat from fans demanding a PC version of the game.

References

The game contains a Frost Giant named Jarl. This a reference to the Frost Giant Jarl from the old AD&D module G2: The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.

Awards

  • GameSpy
    • 2007 – #5 Handheld Game of the Year
    • 2007 – #5 PSP Game of the Year
    • 2007 – #6 Nintendo DS Game of the Year
    • 2007 – Best XBLA Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Jeff Sinasac.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Robstein.

PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 added by Charly2.0. Nintendo DSi added by HelloMrKearns. OnLive added by firefang9212. PlayStation 2 added by Alaka. Macintosh, Windows, PSP, Xbox 360, iPad added by Kabushi. Wii added by Grog Logen.

Additional contributors: Frecklefoot, Kabushi, Zeppin, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, Alsy, FatherJack.

Game added April 4, 2007. Last modified October 9, 2023.