Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 07/23/08 | Genre: Puzzle
Originally released on the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords has finally made its way to the Xbox Live Arcade. Retailing at a price of 1200 Microsoft Points ($15.00), does this re-release offer enough to make it worthy of a digital purchase?
For those of you not familiar with Puzzle Quest, the game is a RPG version of Bejeweled. At the start of the game, players create a character, their class, name them, and begin a quest with a storyline. Through the course of your adventures, players will level up, aquire skills and equipment, and more. Fighting another character will look exactly like a normal Bejeweled match. However, instead of playing alone, you alternate turns between your opponent and can only harm them by lining up 3 or more skulls. You also will have full use of magic spells and skills that vary between classes and levels. Your mana for these is replenished by lining up different colored orbs. But beware, one false move and you just might setup your opponent to line up skulls to knock off your HP. First character to lose all of their health loses the match.
One of the most anticipated features of the Xbox Live Arcade version of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is the online mode. Although this mode is not worth venturing into until you have leveled up your character, once you begin playing, it is hard to put down. The single player mode is a lot of fun but nothing beats experiencing Puzzle Quest again another live person. To ensure that players keep the game moving at a relatively fast pace, there is a timer that can be set when creating a match. This will make a person use their turn or lose it when the timer expires.
Puzzle Quest has received a slight upgrade to HD graphics. While these are not mind-blowing, the visuals are definitely a step up from the Nintendo DS and PSP versions. The biggest issue with the new graphics is that the main world map is very small. It is so small that it is sometimes extremely difficult to see what is on the screen. I would have preferred them zoom in or offer some sort of zoom option. However, this is a minor issue.
Overall, if you love the Puzzle Genre, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords is a must buy. Even if you already own the Nintendo DS or PSP version, the ability to experience Puzzle Quest on your big screen TV, in HD, and play against others online is worth the 1200 Microsoft Points ($15.00) purchase. That said, $15.00 is on the high side of download only titles--but with the price of the handheld version roughly double that, this Xbox Live Arcade title is definitely one of the best titles on the XBLA platform this year.