D3 Publisher said they had a surprise at their GDC event and I was sure it would be the Oneechanbara R. I was totally off the mark. Instead we were treated with a brand new intergalactic cousin in the Puzzle Quest franchise, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix. If you’ve seen the early screenshots on Infinite Interactive’s page the game has changed quite a bit from a basic match three puzzle game.
Unlike Puzzle Quest: Challenge of Warlords, Puzzle Quest Galactrix uses a hexagonal board. You match black orbs to deal damage and colored pieces to gain the space equivalent of mana, but gravity effects how new pieces materialize on the board. The concept sounds a little confusing on paper, but simply explained the pieces don’t “fall” from top to bottom. They gravitate towards the center of the board at various angles. Also you cannot use Hexic style matching and cluster three same colored pieces together to erase them. The pieces must be in a line, but Galatrix introduces more ways to meld them since diagonal lines are part of the puzzle.
I asked Sam Guilloud, the product manager at D3 Publisher, if Puzzle Quest: Galatrix would be intimidating for the casual audience Challenge of the Warlords captured. He answered, “I think it’s still easy to pick up and play for beginning players. I think the gravity system offers a new way to strategically play for Puzzle Quest pros.” Gravity varies depending if battles take place in space or on the surface of a planet. On top of the gravity system players can match three white pieces to increase their intel (a modified version of experience) and blue pieces to repair their hull. Purple pieces represent Psi and map manipulation powers. Beyond the board I didn’t get to see much of Puzzle Quest: Galatrix, but I heard about a storyline that asks the question “what if humans have no soul.” Oh yeah, there’s a war between corporations and mankind is almost eliminated.
With Galatrix in the pipeline it seems like D3 Publisher plans on fitting more pieces in the Puzzle Quest linage. “Puzzle Quest is a franchise that we really want to make our signature flagship. You will be seeing a lot from Puzzle Quest in the future. I can’t talk about what specific you will be seeing, but you will be seeing a lot,” Guilloud explained. Just for fun, I asked Guilloud about his dream Puzzle Quest setting. He laughed after I ran through a list of options like dinosaurs and ninjas before responding with, “Maybe ninja style. Ninja style Puzzle Quest.”
One last bit of information is Puzzle Quest: Galatrix is only confirmed for Xbox Live Arcade, Nintendo DS and the PC this fall. I inquired about the loss of a PSP version. Guilloud gives a hopeful reply with, “nothing has been confirmed yet. Those are the three we have confirmed officially. The rest is still to be determined.” What about Nintendo Wi-Fi play for the DS version it’s “still to be determined.”