FLASHBACK: Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition - Nintendo 3DS

When Puzzle & Dragons released on the Nintendo 3DS, it landed attached to a Super Mario Bros-themed edition of the game. Two games for the price of one! But I’m just focusing on the main Puzzle & Dragons Z game here, because I think it’s an underrated wee thing, and you can probably pick it up right now for about a tenner.

For those of you who don’t know, Puzzle & Dragons is an RPG-styled puzzle game, a kind of “Match-3” game full of dragon eggs and special powers. It was a mobile game, initially, and then came to the 3DS stripped of all the micro-transaction poison. And listen - like I said in the previous paragraph - it’s seriously underrated.

First of all, let’s take a look at the puzzle game itself. When I first started playing, I assumed that it was a Match-3 game like any other Match-3 game. I expected to have to find matching colours with some adjacency, and then pull the colours into alignment to make a combo. And yeah, there is that. But adjacency has nothing to do with it. In this game you can drag a colour from anywhere on the board to anywhere else, shuffling the board’s layout around as the colour slides towards its destination. By doing this you can trigger additional combos on the way to your main combo. You can get extra joy on the road to your main goal. But there’s a time limit to how long you can “touch” your chosen gem - you can’t drag it around forever, manipulating the colours to get the best result. You have to be efficient and decisive. It’s a cracking wee game. Addictive as hell, and pleasingly simple to wrap your head around.

Drag a wee yellow orb beside those other ones and your wee yellow monster will knock fuck out of that preying mantis and his weird wife and his two wee custard-baw pals.

Drag a wee yellow orb beside those other ones and your wee yellow monster will knock fuck out of that preying mantis and his weird wife and his two wee custard-baw pals.

How about those RPG stylings wrapped around the puzzle game? Well, this is my favourite bit of the whole deal. I’m a big JRPG fan, and this game is almost like a parody of the traditional JRPG. You’re a kid who wakes up in bed to say goodbye to mother and head off on an adventure. A wee dragon falls from the sky and becomes your best pal immediately just because. The baddies are tortured souls with brilliant names, obsessed with the sound of their own voices, hitting out with long monologues about which kind of peanut butter they like. There are also jokes, too. Actual jokes, and they’re often actually funny.

I really like this game. It’s lovingly put together, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and gets seriously challenging in the late game. And it comes with a free Mario game. I mean, what’s not to like here, ya dafty?

Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition is available on 3DS now, because it’s ancient.