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Game Reviews
'Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords'
By: D3 Publisher
(P2 / ASIN: B000SKMF1Y / Rated: E / $19.95)

Overview: Building upon the addictive and easy-to-learn gameplay of a puzzle game by integrating story and character progression elements found in RPGs, 'Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords' delivers a brand new type of game that pushes the puzzle genre to a previously unseen level.

Create and build a persistent hero, from one of 4 unique classes; who gains skills, spells, weapons and more over the course of the game Customizable characters give players the ability to fight battles with unique strategies Build your empire as you capture cities, build castles and gain a party of companions that will aid you in battle.

Features
Easy to learn gameplay with opportunity for strategy for more advanced players
Embark on a single-player campaign with 150 quests
Quick play mode allows players to start with puzzle battles
Create and build a hero who gains skills, spells and weapons
Customizable characters each fight battles with unique strategies
Build and empire by capturing cities and building castles
As your reputation increases you will gain a party of companions to aid you in battle
Battles others via wireless multiplayer

Description: Building upon the addictive and easy-to-learn gameplay of a puzzle game by integrating story and character progression elements found in RPG's, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords delivers a brand new type of game that pushes the puzzle genre to a previously unseen level.

Verdict: Casual gamers have their Bejeweled, and hardcore players have their RPGs. Long have the two groups been content to remain separate and play their respective games. But the folks at D3 Publisher have begun a socialization experiment that may find gamers from both camps playing the same game. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords attempts to marry characteristics of traditional RPGs with the pick-up-and-play mechanics of a casual puzzle game -- and succeeds.

Unlike other "normal" RPGs, battles in Puzzle Quest are played out on the Bejeweled field. If you haven't played the PopCap game online, Bejeweled is a jewel-matching puzzle game where you flip two adjacent pieces at a time in order to create matching rows of three or more gems. As you create matches, they disappear and more jewels spill in creating more match-making opportunities.

During battles, players go head-to-head against an enemy who is playing off the same field as you. You and your opponent take turns, so your move can end up being beneficial to the enemy's, or vice versa. The four different colors of gems (red, blue, yellow, green) represent different types of mana. As you clear the field and build your reserve of each type, you can spend your mana in different combinations to cast both offensive and defensive spells.

If you manage to clear four jewels at once, you'll receive an additional turn. Clear five and you'll receive the extra turn and a wild card will appear that can be used as any color of mana and multiplies the amount you receive. Skulls are peppered throughout the play field, and can be used to attack your opponent when cleared. The battle will rage on until one of the side's hit points are reduced to zero. Those are the basics of Puzzle Quest's gameplay, but as you make your way through the game you'll realize that there is a lot more depth to be explored. You can expand your hometown citadel with additions like dungeons, towers, and stables. Each expansion grants you new abilities: once you have a dungeon you can capture your enemies; once you have a stable you can train captured monsters as mounts; once you have a mage tower you can learn spells from enemies.

You can lay siege to other castles and bring them into the fold of your kingdom. A siege is handled on the field of puzzle, but castles will have much greater hit points than most monsters. Defeat the castle in battle, and its citizens will begin paying their taxes directly to you.

Reviewed by Tab Walker

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