GameStop’s PowerUp Reward points are stupid. Or maybe I’m stupid. Certainly one of us is to blame, and, as a human stuffed with ridiculous emotions like pride and shame and deep-seated embarrassment, I’m inclined to place the fault on someone other than myself. So there. Well, no…let me explain more. Trust me, this story will eventually lead to both the reason why this blog post is about Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition and my early impressions on it, up to the end of World 1.
See, I recently noticed I had a ton of “points” in my PowerUp Rewards account, seeing as I’ve bought a number of things over the last few months, like an Xbox One, and decided to cash some of these points in for a single $25.00 redeemable coupon. In my mind, I was planning on burning this to buy four more amiibo card packs for Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer because I’m broken inside. No, really, I am. Utterly and completely damaged. Animal Crossing is one of my all-time favorite series, and now there are collectible cards out there that one can collect and caress and cherish until the end of time. Insert that Futurama meme hard as heck right here.
Anyways, this did not work out. Evidently, the $25 coupon can only be applied to a single item, not your final bill. Sure, that means I could waste it all on one $5.99 pack of amiibo cards, but I wouldn’t get any of that leftover credit. It would just vanish. Seems both like a waste of points and effort. So, instead, I looked around the store for something that was more than $25.00, and so a new copy of Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition for $30.00. Fine. I mean, after all, it was a game I wanted to play last year, but did not get to. Still, that $25.00 credit coupon is beyond misleading, and, unfortunately, it seemed like there was no way for me to return to the points to my account; doing that would have allowed me to at least create two $10.00 credit coupons, and thus two more amiibo card packs. Oh well–lesson stupidly learned.
Anyways, Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition takes the super popular in Japan free-to-play mobile model of Puzzle & Dragons and coats it in a cutesy, colorful Nintendo skin. I say that as if I know anything about Puzzle & Dragons vanilla, which I don’t. I’ll do my best now to explain it in mechanical terms. Gameplay revolves around matching three or more orbs of the same color/element by displacing one orb around the board to attack enemies. Each turn you conduct counts down as a timer for the monsters to attack your party. The goal is to complete the dungeon/level you enter by defeating every foe and surviving until the end. Also, skilled players can create chained combos for massive damage in a single turn.
I’ve only gone through the first world, which obviously loads up some tutorial stuff, but it’s pretty fun. Creating those big combos feels so dang good; also, missing those combos hurts more than I can explain. It’s not as simple as moving one orb over to another like in Pokemon Shuffle or Frozen Free Fall, since sliding the orb around the field affects other orbs in its path, and I don’t have the best handle on how this actually works. Plus, you’re timed. It can be a bit stressful, but truly satisfying too. Sometimes I score big, and sometimes my party of goombas and red winged turtles simply sit there, frozen in regret, bracing for the worst.
There’s actually a lot of options for you from early on to help build up a strong, capable team that will help you rescue Princess Peach from Bowser. Oh, did I not mention that she is kidnapped again? Good job, Nintendo. Really stretching those creativity muscles. Basically, you can sacrifice weaker teams members you aren’t using to power up a single team member. There are also items to find to help with this, as well as lot of experience points to earn along the way. Right now, I have three separate teams created, all of which have their strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what those are and picking a compatible leader is key to surviving some of the later fights, which deal out a ton of damage to your team if you don’t combo fast and early enough. There’s also a few grayed out options on the menu still to open up.
I’ve not gotten to try Puzzle & Dragons Z yet, which is the other game packed in, but I suspect I will eventually. Want to continue on this path for now so that I’m not trying to juggle two sets of similar teams in my mind. I also have to imagine it’s the weaker of the two titles in this nifty 3DS bundle though I’m curious to see how they work in a JRPG story around all these orbs. We’ll see in due time.