Nintendo has begun to partner with other companies to get more recognition for its bountiful number of properties, which many will agree is a sound decision. One of the strangest results of this newfound initiative, however, is Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition for the Nintendo 3DS. The game offers a different take on the dungeon crawler genre with a number of familiar Super Mario Bros. characters, while offering gamers the Puzzle & Dragons Z experience alongside it.
The end result is a pair of games that offer some of the most challenging and engrossing puzzle-filled scenarios that can be found on any platform, and it’s sure to keep players engaged long after their initial purchase.
Headed up by GungHo Online Entertainment, this crossover admittedly has more depth than any other puzzle game on the market. Tasking users with progressing through dungeons filled with baddies, players will build a team comprised of recognizable characters – provided they’re playing through the Nintendo-backed iteration – and will charge headstrong into battle. This battle is carried out by stringing together orbs of the same color on the bottom touchscreen, but they need to be in a straight line to have any effect.
Each of these orbs activates an attack from a party member depending on which type is matched up, and this is where the depth comes into play. By constructing a team, players are deciding which composition makes the most sense for any given dungeon, and the type (either Water, Fire, Wood, Light, Dark, or Heart) that’s associated with any given ally will reap rewards for the user – but selecting the wrong teammates can result in failure.
This system is very similar to Pokemon, with each type having a weakness, but it has been simplified in a way that challenges users without overwhelming them. Giving players as much time as they want to analyze the layout of the bottom screen before shifting orbs within a finite amount of time adds strategy to the games, with smart placements and shifts resulting in huge combo attacks as well as prizes.
Each initial enemy encounter takes place in an overworld that plays out like a dungeon crawler, albeit with fewer chances to select a pathway. Once defeated, most enemies will simply disappear, but every once in a while one will leave behind a box (Super Mario Bros. Edition) or an egg (Puzzle & Dragons Z). These items will add new monsters to a player’s library of companions, and they can be swapped in or out whenever desired.
The only reoccurring issue with gathering new allies is that it’s very challenging to collect a particular monster. There’s no means to guarantee a successful capture, but this only adds to the challenge of the overall game. Some monsters are also rarer than others, which will appeal to the hidden collector within any given player.
Of course, battling with certain allies long enough will level them up, and (once enough items have been gained through each hostile, puzzle-based encounter) they can then be evolved. This adds an entire level of replayablity to the games, as players will quickly find themselves revisiting areas to gather materials they may have missed the first time around.
What makes Puzzle & Dragon Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition such an enjoyable package, however, is the fact that once users have poured hours into completing one game, there’s still an entirely new story and campaign left to play through. This crossover is, in fact, a bundle, which means that there’s an ample amount of content that players will have after picking up the software.
Admittedly, while there’s a lot of things to do within the game, some veteran puzzle solvers may not enjoy the RPG-esque qualities of the games. In this case, it may be better to stick to tried and true franchises that change up the layout of each scenario and task players with simply solving puzzles rather than constantly updating their roster of fictional fighters. Still, this makes for a nice change of pace from a genre that may not have appealed to some until now.
Team building, puzzle solving, ally collecting, monster evolving – these are why Puzzle & Dragon Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition manages to shine in a sea of other similar games. The depth of these combined titles is highly engaging and will have users analyzing every possible move and roster addition in a bid to overcome in-game antagonists. While the games won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – not to mention that the dialogue and characters in Puzzle & Dragons Z are mind-numbingly boring – the discounted combo pack that features both of these titles is certainly worth checking out.
Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition will be available exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS on May 22, 2015. Game Rant was provided a 3DS code for this review.