Genre: Puzzle, Action
With the birth of the casual game came the first appearances of a new type of gamer culture: the hardcore casual gamer. These are the people spending ten hours a night playing Bejeweled, throwing Wii Sports parties several years after the console's release, and walking around with a DS, bragging about their Brain Age. While they begin in casual, simple games, they tend to grow and look for games with slightly more complicated mechanics. Sure most aren't ready for Fallout or Persona, but games blending casual gameplay with hardcore appeal seem to be a perfect fit for this new breed. However, the games sometimes coming off as either too hardcore or too casual, failing to really bridge the gap between the two sides
Puzzlegeddon, a puzzler with war-room elements added in, looks to avoid that folly. The cutsey, slick presentation and simplistic gameplay disguises the addictive core, which has a wealth of replayability and competitive value. The puzzle itself sits inside of a planet with islands protruding the surface. Inside, all too familiar colored blocks must be matched together. This might sound a bit dated, but it takes on a slightly different form than the typical Bejweled clones on the market. By moving columns either vertically or horizontally players must match together chains of similar colors, which fill meters that can be used to activate skills. The four colors of blocks, green, red, yellow, and blue, each represent a different element of the game, and matching together like-colored blocks adds points to their respective meters, each with three tiers of power.
Red fires missiles, yellow applies harmful status effects on enemies, blue gives powerups, and green activates defenses. It's more than a bit like Puzzle Quest, that's for sure, but it isn't at all an RPG. As mentioned before, filling the red meter powers up rockets, which can be fired at the enemy. They actually need to be fired, though, and they will slowly travel through towards their target, giving the opponent time to react. The opponent can either fire a defensive missile to destroy the attack or save up Green points to deflect the projectile back at the shooter. It's action based, requiring quick reflexes and a keen eye, rewarding fast decision making as well as puzzle solving skills.
It quickly becomes an arms race, with each island attempting to amass as many resources as possible for violent attacks or strategic defenses. There will be lulls as players focus on the puzzle to fill their reserves, and rushes as each fires off attacks and uses their special abilities, trying to assure their foe's destruction before they have a chance to be able to defend themselves. It's addicting, and gives the strategic depth of a game like Puzzle Quest in shorter, easier to manage bursts. It's also much more accessible, giving easy to understand visual indicators instead of mana gauges, creating an experience that most anyone should be able to understand.
In that way, it's a shock that Puzzlegeddon isn't already on the Xbox Live Marketplace or PlayStation Network. It's a far better game than most of the competitive puzzlers on the systems, and most of the PC version's faults would likely be resolved when moved to the active online communities of the console market. On the PC, the game suffers from being essentially unknown, and finding multiplayer opponents is usually much more trouble than it's worth. For $15, it supplies a large amount of content and replayability, and is only held back by the fact that you're not playing it. Aside from the before mentioned competitive mode there's a singleplayer campaign focusing more on puzzling than fighting and very customizable options, ensuring that there are many different ways to play. For LAN parties, killing time, and for helping non-gamers cross the bridge from Bejewled to something more, Puzzlegeddon is a fantastic game, and absolutely worth a purchase.