Review: Puzzles & Dragons Z + Puzzles & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition

Whew, that name is a mouthful.

Hello everybody,

I finally got my hands on the new puzzle game for 3DS, Puzzles and Dragons Z + Puzzles and Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition. This is my first Puzzles and Dragons game and I am really happy that I decided to get this. Despite not being a huge fan of those traditional match 3 games I am enjoying this game a lot!

Basically, what you do is use the 3DS stylus to move orbs around the touch screen. The difference between a traditional match 3 game and P&Z is that instead of just moving your candies up and down, left to right (Candy Crush), you push orbs around in order to get as many combos as possible. If you approach an orb from below, the orb will move into the position that you approached it from. It took me a bit to get used to knowing where those orbs would move but, now it comes pretty naturally. Because of the presence of a timer, you can’t spend all day planning out your every move. Once you move one orb the timer starts counting and you only have a couple more seconds to move those orbs into a desired position. It keeps things interesting and reminds me I have to always be on my toes. As other reviewers have stated, this is not the kind of game that you should play while watching TV as it does take quick thinking and focus to make sure you defeat those monsters before they defeat you. This is especially true of the Mario edition as it is more challenging than Z (more on that later).

Battle screen in P&D Mario edition!

Overall, the two games play very similarly to each other. It’s the same idea of pushing magical orbs around to inflict damage on enemy monsters. Each of the orbs has a certain type too. For example, green orbs have earth energy while blue orbs have water. If any of you guys are familiar with type advantages in Pokemon games you’ll find yourself right at home here. Certain orbs (that differ in color) will be weak/strong against other orbs. Just like in Pokemon, fire type monsters are weak against water attacks. Therefore, you’ll want to match as many water orbs as possible so that any water type monsters in your party can attack with more force. Of course, if you don’t have any water monsters in your party then nothing will happen. It’s good to keep that in mind while playing the game because some levels don’t necessarily have orbs of a certain element available to you.

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Battle screen in P&D Z!

Aside from defeating monsters, there are also parts of the level where there will be a treasure chest (Z edition) or ? Block (Mario edition) that require you to achieve certain goals in order to be opened. Some of these goals include clearing a certain amount of a certain type of orb (ex: clear 7 water orbs in one move) or to reach a certain amount of combos in x amount of moves. In the easier levels only one condition has to be met before the box will open. In later levels there may be more than one. When you successfully open a box, you’ll often get money or items that will help evolve/strengthen your monsters.

When I first got the game I was thinking that I should start with the Super Mario part of the game because it’d probably be easier but, I was wrong. To my surprise, the Super Mario part of the game is way more challenging than the Z part. I found myself getting frustrated at the Mario part because it was actually pretty hard… From the looks of it, most people actually prefer the Mario part because they think Z is too easy. Personally, I think Z is just right and find the Mario edition too challenging.

To help with knowing the difference between the two games, I’ve listed out some differences below.

P&D Z:

  • Has more of an RPG feel to it (similar to Pokemon in some areas)
  • Brand new set of monsters (more of them to collect too)
  • Hatch eggs to get monsters
  • Higher drop rates (for items)
  • Less difficult

P&D Super Mario Bros.:

  • Collect Baddie Blocks to get monsters
  • Familiar monsters (Goomba and Cheep Cheep for example)
  • Much lower drop rate
  • More difficult
  • Move between levels in a familiar way (similar to a traditional Mario game (see image below))

One of my complaints about the Mario Edition is that the drop rate for certain items is very low. I might not be the best at the P&Z games but I seriously think those Goombas need to drop more goods. One thing I do appreciate is that both these games reward you for doing well. If you manage to defeat a monster with tons of combos your chances at getting an item seem to be more likely. Matter of fact, I am convinced that unless you make tons of combos all the time you’re going to find it rather difficult to collect items in the Mario edition. That’s part of the reason why I find that game more challenging because it requires more of you in order to get certain items for evolving monsters. Even if you DO do well it is not guaranteed you’ll get the item you need since it’s random. It is much easier to collect things in Z however, which is good. It speeds up the process.

I am also very happy with the way the games look (both of them). The world in Z is very appealing and I remember being impressed with how much attention to detail they put on the surroundings. The outlook of the worlds are very beautiful and I do enjoy the music too. The same can be said of the Mario edition. It brings everything you’d expect from a traditional Mario game and combines it with the lighthearted music and colorful art style characteristic of the series.

It’s always the same thing.

One of my favorite aspects of these games is that you can befriend monsters/hatch monsters from eggs. It has a very Pokemon-y feel to it. You can also evolve the monsters into more powerful epic looking ones. This sounds oh, so familiar doesn’t it?

One major complaint of mine (and it absolutely drives me nuts) is something that occurs in both games. For this reason, I wonder if I am doing something wrong… Occasionally, if I move my stylus too quickly and it touches the very edges of the screen it suddenly behaves like I removed my stylus from the screen completely and ends my turn. After this happened multiple times during gameplay it really started to get on my nerves. Isn’t the whole purpose of having a timer to try and encourage the player to move quickly? So, if I move quickly and it cuts me off doesn’t that just defeat the purpose? I suppose the only cure for this is to make sure you don’t get too close to the edges of the screen. It sounds ridiculous…because it is.

Because there are two separate games I will give two separate scores for each one. I have listed out some of the pros and cons I have found for the games. Just remember that if I personally think something is too difficult it doesn’t mean you will.

P&D Z Pros & Cons:

  • + More balanced difficulty (at least, to me)
  • + Higher item drop rate
  • + More variety of monsters
  • + Actually has some story (although not very creative)
  • + Beautiful world (this game looks great!)
  • + Appropriate and catchy music that fits the game well
  • – Sometimes cuts me off if I move the stylus too quickly

P&D Mario Edition Pros & Cons:

  • + Familiar monsters (but fewer of them)
  • – More challenging (or maybe a little too challenging for some)
  • + Beautiful world (this game looks great too!)
  • + Familiar music (adds nostalgia)
  • – Low item drop rate (which makes it difficult to get what you need to evolve your monsters)
  • – Shallow story (the same old story of Peach being kidnapped by Bowser)
  •  – Sometimes cuts me off if I move the stylus too quickly

Overall, I would give Z an 80/100 and the Mario Edition a 75/100. Personally, although both had their flaws I think they both did well in what they tried to do. I have enjoyed them and still am. For the more modest price of 30 dollars you get two games and you don’t have to like match three games to enjoy them.

I have never regretted buying this game as it has given me many hours of gameplay (currently about 13 hours in (after 6 days)) and I am still nowhere near finished in either game! I would definitely recommend this game to anybody who enjoys match 3 games or who may not necessarily enjoy them too much but doesn’t mind them and wants to try something new!

Thanks for reading everybody! I haven’t gotten my hands on Splatoon yet (me is sad) but I will soon (hopefully in the next few weeks). Once I do and have given myself a chance to really sink my teeth into it, expect a review too!

Happy gaming,

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