Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords (PSP) – Initial Impressions

I’ve heard a lot of word of mouth about this title, and so once I found it (it’s a surprise hit, so shelf copies are limited in many places), I will say the initial premise and game looks very very promising.

It’s basically a Bejeweled puzzle/casual game dressed as a fantasy RPG.  Your character takes on quests, during which he or she must ‘fight’ opponents.  Battles are done using a standard Bejeweled board with multiple types of tokens with the usual rules: swap any two adjacent tokens to make a line of three as to clear them and have more tokens fall to fill that.  However, the types of tokens you clear become important: there’s colored ones that represent mana for magic spells, experience tokens, gold tokens, and skulls which can be matched to instantly hurt your opponent.  Yes, your opponent, because as opposed to the usual Bejeweled approach, you take turns between your opponent to move tokens and reap the benefits.  This usually prevents you from setting up long combos that you could sometimes do in Bejeweled as the computer opponent is likely going to find the best point for those (and I’ve heard reports that the AI, as you get up there, is realllly good), so it’s a matter of considering the current board.  The mana you get for spells (which get more powerful with experience) can be used instead of swapping at any turn to cast a spell usually damaging your opponent.   Vary store and quest items change the frequency of how pieces come on the board during battle and other aspects.

I’ve only done a few handful of missions but this combination of RPG/casual game (which is very pick-up and go) already has me hooked.

I will note that this game also exists for the DS, but as I’ve read it, the PSP tends to be better, the graphics outweighing the simplicity of the DS controls.