'Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition' Lands On The 3DS

May 22, 2015

Matching games have been around for decades, but, as of late, they seem to be all the rage. Their addictive nature have thrust games like Candy Crush into the spotlight as it generates thousands of dollars on mobile devices. Granted, match-three games and mobile devices go together like peanut butter and jelly, since their simplicity makes it easy to mindlessly match whenever you have a few minutes free. However, some games have taken that core concept and amped it up, giving players a deeper, more meaningful experience out of their "simple" puzzle game. One of the franchises that has done it the best is Puzzle & Dragons, a Japanese-developed mobile game that has moved over 40 million units worldwide, mainly on mobile devices. The franchise's most recent release, Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition hopes to transcend platforms, and bring the wildly successful tile-matching game to the 3DS, with a little extra help from Mario.

Developer: GungHo Online Entertainment
Publisher: Nintendo

GungHo Online Entertainment struck virtual gold when they released Puzzle & Dragons back in 2012. The game went on to move millions, and help establish a blockbuster franchise, to the point where moving over the Nintendo's handheld with a Super Mario version of the game, was inevitable. The Super Mario Bros. Edition is far from the first tie-in for the series, with Puzzle & Dragons collaborations that feature everything from Ragnarok Online, to Hello Kitty, with the likes of Batman: Arkham Origins and Baskin-Robbins mixed in for good measure.

The general concept of Puzzle & Dragons is pretty simple: match 3, or 4, or 5 of the same color gem to generate attacks on your opponent until they're defeated. However, beneath the surface, Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition both offer much deeper experiences that force the player to plan and strategize each move to maximize combo points, and thoughtfully level up their characters, in order to make smart decisions about which team to choose when going into battle. It's basically like Pokemon meets Puzzle Quest, which is, frankly, an amazing combination. The Puzzle & Dragons Z side of the cart offers more of an RPG experience, with some story elements to move things along, whereas Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition is a bit lighter, and more gameplay focused.

Puzzle & Dragons Z was originally released in Japan as a standalone 3DS game, but the U.S. release comes packaged with Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition to up the international appeal. Given that half of this release is Super Mario-centric, Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition can only be found on the Nintendo 3DS.

The draw of matching three (or more) objects is tried and true at this point, and Puzzle & Dragons gets that, but it also incorporates a bit more flare, making it a significantly more interesting take on the genre than its peers. Whether you've played the original mobile releases, or this is your first foray into the Puzzle & Dragons universe, Puzzle & Dragons Z is a great way to see what the series has to offer. On the other hand Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition is a lighter, and more approachable take on the gameplay, full of familiar faces and places, that lower the barrier of entry, making it a great place to start for newcomers. The 3DS is tailor made for an experience like Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition and is a great option for a casual and addictive game to kick off the summer.