On the surface Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords looks like any ordinary match three game, but it’s deeper than that. There’s a world to explore, classes to choose from and strategies to learn. To get a better grip on the game and how the system works, Andy Pan, Puzzle Quest’s producer answers our questions about the game.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords has a unique twist on the RPG and puzzle genres. It looks like one part "Bejeweled" and one part strategy RPG. Where did the idea for Puzzle Quest come from?
Andy Pan (producer): The developers for Puzzle Quest have traditionally worked on making strategy/RPG type games. They wanted to do something new and refreshing. Since they are also big fans of puzzle games, they decided to combine their passion and their expertise and Puzzle Quest was the end result.
How does the battle system in Puzzle Quest work out?
The battle system takes place on a puzzle board in an 8 x 8 grid. There are 8 elements on the puzzle board – 4 mana gems (fire, water, air, earth) as well as experience (the purple icons) gold (gold coins) and skulls and finally, the wildcard. The mechanics of the game is a turn-based match 3 (or more) system. Meaning, you take a turn trying to match 3 of something, and then your opponent will take its turn. The player’s goal is to defeat an opponent by reducing his hit points before the opponent wipes your hit points out. To do damage to an opponent, the player can either match 3 skulls or trigger a spell that does damage to the opponent. Before you can unleash spells you must accumulate enough mana to fulfill the mana requirements. Different spells will require different amount of mana as well as type of mana.
After playing a little Puzzle Quest I noticed tricks like matching four pieces give an extra turn. What are some good battle strategies?
Matching 4 pieces is ALWAYS a good thing. You increase the amount of mana/money/XP you just collected and you get to keep your turn!
Strategies for the game will vary depending on how you spec your character and what spells and gear you outfit your character with. However, there are some strategies that will always apply no matter what you do.
For starts, always look for possible 4-of-a-kind matches. If you don’t match them, your opponent certainly will take advantage of it.
Also, like Chess, you should survey the board for possible pitfalls and traps. Just because a trio of gems is match-able does not mean it’s always a good idea to do so. Look at the board and think to yourself. What happens if I match this? How will the pieces fall? Will the end setting end up benefiting my opponent? For example, you may not want to match a set of gems that will end up giving the opponent the chance to match Skulls (therefore doing damage to you) or 4-of-a-kind (therefore giving him extra turns).
Ultimately, the process of winning involves a balance of:
Getting the mana you need to unleash your spells
Denying the opponent that mana he needs to prevent him from using his spells
Leveling your character and outfitting him/her with good gear to be stronger in battle
One thing that I can’t quite figure out is how the AI gets more complex in later fights. Are future enemies more cognizant of chains or do they have more abilities you have to defend against?
The AI opponents gets more complex in later fights because the monsters/bosses may have higher levels of attributes or are equipped with really powerful weapons and spells. They may have higher level of resistance to a particular type of spell. For example, if you’re fighting a Fire Elemental, you might not want to bring a bunch of fire spells to the battle because chances are they will get resisted.
When you start the game you can select from four classes. What advantages and disadvantages are there between them?
There are 4 classes to choose from. The Warrior, The Knight, The Druid, and the Wizard. Which one is better? Well that’s really a matter of opinion. Any class can be deadly in the hands of a skilled player. The key lies in being able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the character you’re going to battle with as well as understanding your opponent’s strengths and flaws.
The Warrior excels in inflicting damage in battle. It is cheaper for him to upgrade his battle skills so that he can inflict more damage.
The Knight is a noble character. Therefore the majority of his spells will be defense-based as well as precision attack spells. They are also equipped with abilities that accelerate the character growth.
The Druid requires a different play style. The class may not be able to match damage output against a Warrior but they have healing spells and other protective spells that gives them high survivability.
The Wizard is a master elemental specialist. Arguably they are the most fragile. But at the same time they also possess the most devastating array of spells.
I never got a chance to see how the quest system in Puzzle Quest works. Can you tell us a little about the game outside of battles?
The Quest mode of the game is an epic story set in the Warlords world of Etheria. As the main character of the story, it’s up to you to discover and investigate strange happenings to the realm. You’ll travel around the world map and visit locales. At specific locales there will be characters that will serve as quest givers and beckon you to help them out, whether it is to help rescue someone or hunt for specific items. Along the way you’ll have companions joining your party. The companions will give you extra attributes in a battle. When you complete the quest, you will usually be rewarded with money or experience or even special gear.
Are wireless battles for Puzzle Quest only local and is there game sharing?
The PSP will feature wireless (adhoc) multiplayer. The DS will also feature wireless play. Game sharing is not supported.
Are there any differences minus the touch screen control between the PSP and DS versions of the game?
Both versions will offer great gameplay! The DS version is adapted to take unique advantage of the intuitive use of the touch screen. The PSP will play equally well on the PSP control configuration while enjoying a bigger viewing screen.
How come we’re only seeing Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords on portable systems? It looks like it would be a great title to release over Xbox Live Arcade or fun to play with the Wii remote.
Currently, only the PSP and the DS version are planned for release.
One potential problem Puzzle Quest can run into is that it doesn’t seem to have a "target". It superficially appears too complex for the casual game market and it might be too simple for the "hardcore" RPG market. How would you convince these two groups to give Puzzle Quest a try?
The game is uniquely designed in a way that it caters to casual gamers or on-the-go gamers, as well as offering a great challenge to more seasoned gamers. The game can be played in bursts of 5-10 minute rounds, or for hours at a time. God knows how many work days and productivity I’ve lost to this game trying to do more quests and saying to myself “just one more match!” It’s very well suited for a pick up and put down style of play. If I, as a player, don’t feel like playing the quest mode, I can choose to play Instant Battle and still be able grow my character and level up. Ultimately, I believe that Puzzle Quest is a good game and it will be fun no matter who plays it.