Continuing from my first roundup, here is another batch of DS game reviews ordered from best to worst:
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
How does a Bejeweled clone (albeit with a few extra mechanics) keep me interested for scores of hours?
The answer is: By setting it within a rich RPG backdrop.
Although the core puzzle game and its variations did not have me jumping for joy, the RPG aspect kept me riveted. In a traditional turn-based RPG, each battle is sort of like a puzzle anyway – Puzzle Quest simply replaces the combat with Bejeweled. The ability to damage your opponent and cast spells while playing the puzzle certainly doesn’t hurt. This is certainly one of the finest that the DS has to offer.
Ahhh, at last… this is the RPG I’ve been waiting for on the DS. I didn’t play Chrono Trigger when it originally came out on the SNES so this port was more than welcome. Having loved Chrono Cross on the PS1, I was not disappointed by its predecessor.
I did take an odd path through the game… I wound up boarding the “Black Omen” when it first appeared. For awhile I was hacking through really tough encounters, leveling on almost every battle. I finally had the opportunity to warp off the ship and wound up exploring a lot more of the game. However, the Black Omen battles built my party up to the point where there was little challenge in anything else I faced.
The time travel concept in this game is really cool, and Chrono Trigger is full of interesting characters and fanciful places. I’m not a huge fan of “semi-realtime” combat systems, but I did enjoy hacking my through the game’s many battles. I’m not going to hold my breath for another RPG of this caliber on the DS…
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix
Despite one of the best multimedia presentations I’ve seen on the DS, despite a quality story and RPG component, and despite a wealth of additional gameplay elements compared with the first Puzzle Quest, I really didn’t enjoy this game.
I wish that they would replace the whole “puzzle” mechanic with something closer to traditional RPG battles. Perhaps when it comes down to it, I just didn’t like playing their hexagonal puzzle game.
The other problem was performance. The game is constantly loading and saving, each operation taking agonizing seconds. It was hard to get into a groove with these interruptions. Along a similar vein, the puzzle itself hangs up a little bit following each special action. You click to bolster your shields or something, see your shield points increase, click on a hex to make a move, and nothing happens. You have a pause a beat or two for the game to perform some internal upkeep, and then you are allowed to move.
Galactrix presents itself in such an appealing way… I just wish it were as fun to play as it looks and sounds.
Mario & Luigi Partners in Time
Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the Paper Mario genre because I found this game to be kind of ho-hum. Controlling two characters simultaneously and solving puzzles by switching back and forth between the old and young incarnations of the plumbing heroes was interesting, but kind of gimmicky. In the end there just wasn’t enough to keep me coming back for more.
What an annoying, disappointing game this is. A couple of years ago I spent a few weeks addicted to the Desktop Tower Defense flash game and later played a couple of amusing sessions of Defend Your Castle for the Wii. So when I read about Lock’s Quest I figured that I was looking at a slam dunk. After all, how could you go wrong with what is basically an RPG tower defense game?
Well, here’s how you butcher it:
- Allow only 2-3 minutes to set up your defenses, with no ability to enhance or modify them once the enemies start pouring in
- Throw in an obnoxious maintenance aspect that has you running back and forth repairing your walls and turrets with tedious “wax-on” motions on the touch screen
- Break the tower defense model by adding “traps”. I wound up putting up minimal walls/turrets and just layering the ground with as many poison traps as I could – much more effective than building additional structures
- Include poor character development and a mostly uninteresting storyline
Lock’s Quest had just introduced flying units (which proved to be of little threat) before I decided to give up on this game. I was intrigued to see that there was a multiplayer mode, but the lack of co-op makes me less inclined to try it out. I know I’m being hard on this game… it does have beautiful graphics and a nice interface. Most gaming sites probably give this one an 8, but that’s just not good enough.
Final Fantasy IV
I figured that Final Fantasy would provide me with wholesome RPG goodness, but I found myself slogging through this one. I don’t have much to say about this… I gave it a few hours and didn’t find anything that held my interest.
This Sim City-style game didn’t do much more for me. Perhaps I’m not a fan of the genre. Also, it looks like crap on the DS.