For all its charms, Puzzle Quest is not a game that ends well. Once you've completed every mindless fetch mission and julienned the anticlimactic final boss, you're dropped back into the worldmap with hardly any ceremony save some brief epilogue text. The landscape appears just as you left it, unaffected by your victory or valor.
The New Gamer laments in its review, "I keep hoping that, finally, my character will have some complete and utter impact on the lands, that all those I've interacted in will pronounce the lands free of evil, free of conflict and that they can finally live their lives in peace." But your deeds are quickly forgotten by the townspeople you've saved, and there's little to indicate that you've had an impact on the kingdom of Etheria. In short, it never feels like the Challenge of the Warlords has actually been completed.
Though this lack of finality isn't exclusive to Puzzle Quest, we really expected more from an otherwise fantastic game. Hopefully, Infinite Interactive will take pains to address the issue before putting out its next puzzle/RPG hybrid, Galactrix. Until then, we'll be haunting Etheria's dusty roads, matching gems against any soul that stumbles across our path, sighing no matter what the outcome.
But we do wonder what other games take your fancy. Perhaps World of Warcraft or another MMO? Are you one of the seven people who've bought a PS3? Next week, we figure Mario Party 8 will suck up tons of free time, so we're getting that non-Nintendo gaming in now. How about you? Are you sticking with your beloved DS, or do you sometimes branch out a little?
With Infinite Interactive already planning a commercial release of Warlords 2 for the DS, we can't imagine that they'd be too happy seeing games from their franchise put out for free. Still, it's great to see someone deliver these old favorites to our handhelds. Now all we need are ports of X-Com and Civilization!
All this week, the DS Fanboy staff is letting you in on a few of their favorite titles. Each day, a different member of the staff will present their personal top five DS games along with a snapshot of their gaming paraphernalia and habits, in an effort to provide our readers with a little more information on the tastes and personalities of our writers.
When my afternoons aren't busied by hours of photoshopping cat heads onto pictures of my friends, I pass the time with puzzlers and plumbers on my DS Lite. But those kitten-free days are few and far between, so I end up being able to only fit either the most polished or the most eccentric games into my packed schedule. Wario: Master of Disguise? Sorry, I've got things to do and feline faces to retouch. Lost in Blue 2? I'll have to pass -- I'm already lost in trying to get these whiskers to look perfect.
My collection is a mishmash of AAA titles and niche releases, their cases piled atop one another like a Jenga stack of mismatched blocks, threatening to topple over at any moment. Just pulling a game from the middle of the shaky structure is an act preceded by hours of anxiety and self-doubt. Having my wife provide commentary during the ordeal, remarking "Oh god, it's going to crash this time for sure, I just know it. Why'd you even try, Eric?! Game over, man! Game over!" as I tug out my copy of Advance Wars DS doesn't make the challenge any easier.
So when I do manage to put aside the pussycat photos and secure a game to play, it better damn well be worth it. Journey forth and read which of those titles have captured a place not only on my top five list, but in my heart.
Infinite Interactive is moving beyond the handheld realm this time around, and Galactrix is in the works for not only the PSP and the DS, but also the PC and Xbox Live Arcade. Some versions will include multiplayer modes and downloadable content, but they're not being too specific about whether or not those features are limited to certain formats.
DS gamer Zaraf plotted a strategy that would tear down the AI's defenses and avenge dozens of unfair losses. Unwilling to spend months leveling up and making preparations, staying his vendetta, he hex-edited the game to to max out his character's stats. Zaraf then armed his warrior with a class spell called Deathbringer, enabling him to fill the screen with an amount of damaging skulls equal to half of his red mana. Head past the post break for the results caught on video.
Sensing that the mob was two forums threads away from storming his house with torches and pitchforks, Infinite Interactive's Steve Fawkner made a public statement assuring players that the AI has no unseen advantages. Having worked on the code himself, Steve reasoned that he's too lazy to have programmed anything that advanced.
If that explanation isn't convincing enough, there are still steps you can take to even the playing field. You can unlock a debug menu by pushing in a complex set of keypresses, allowing you to activate several hidden features. Check past the post break for more details on the cheat code and a comic about Puzzle Quest's AI.
Don't expect those Space Crips or your local shop to hang onto unsold copies for too long, though. According to Penny Arcade, Electronics Boutique stores in Canada might already be taking the game off their shelves due to disappointing sales. Considering that this much sought-after title was released only a week ago, ousting it this early in its lifetime seems downright unconscionable. We really hope this isn't a trend that other North American retailers will follow.
Meanwhile, both the DS Fanboy and Penny Arcade offices have been caught by Puzzle Quest's steely grip, rendering us incapable of focusing our thoughts on anything else. Tycho and Gabe have drawn up two comics about the title in just the past week, dedicating several posts to their adventures obtaining and playing the game.
Infinite Interactive's Steve Fawkner published a short comic of his own, explaining Puzzle Quest's shipment shortage. Check it out past the post break.
So what do you guys think? Did the demo sell the game to you or turn you away?
Featuring 3 different game modes, with a single-player portion tasking the player to defeat AI opponents through 150 different quests, along with Instant Action and multiplayer modes, the game should have quite a bit of depth. Sadly, however, is the confirmation that the game is only to support local wireless multiplayer.