Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords


Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords for the DS is a game everyone’s been waiting for but no one knew they were waiting. It’s a blend of traditional RPG elements and Bejeweled. Wait, huh?

The RPG aspects of this game aren’t what’s making it so popular, nor is it entirely the Bejeweled-like puzzle gameplay of the combat. Rather, the seamless integration of the two and the new gameplay that emerges from it are the true reasons behind this game’s sleeper success.

As I said, combat takes the form of a game of Bejeweled on an 8×8 “Battle Grid” with each combatant alternating turns. Damage is inflicted by matching a row of three to five skulls. You can also attack your enemies with various spells, which can be cast by using mana collected by clearing like-colored mana gems. Experience and gold are collected the same way and are represented by a purple star and a stack of coins, respectively.

The combat is fun, though the alternating turns take some getting used to. Instead of matching any set of gems you come across, you need to make sure that you don’t set up something nice for your opponent — like a four or five of a kind, which gives an extra turn. Oftentimes I felt robbed in combat due to the randomness of the whole thing. One seemingly innocuous move by the enemy can lead to a large cascade that quickly builds up their mana and leaves you ten HP weaker. Of course, this same random luck can work in your favor, leaving you feeling like a Puzzle Quest god.

You have the option to play as a Druid, Knight, Wizard or Warrior. Each one levels their skills up differently and each has a unique set of spells available to them with a different focus. Warriors, for instance, have spells that mostly deal direct damage, while Druid spells tend to heal.

When you’re not fighting monsters or evil druids, there’s still plenty to keep you busy. As you progress through the game and save money, you can start to develop your citadel. The citadel is where you get to truly round out your character to make it unique. The cheapest part of your citadel to develop is the dungeon, and it is the foundation of the rest of what your citadel offers you.

With your dungeon built, you can now capture enemies that you have previously defeated at least three times. Depending on the type of enemy captured, you can either learn spells from it (once you’ve built your Mage Tower) or train it to be your mount (after the stables have been built). Mounts can be anything from a giant rat to a gryphon and grant you the use of a special spell.

If taming monsters to be your steed begins to bore you, you can always try your hand at attacking entire cities once you’ve built the Siege Tower portion of your citadel. Be aware, though, cities typically have twice the HP you do and inflict more damage than your typical monster. The benefit to conquering cities is, of course, the monetary tribute they pay regularly.


Once you’ve built up your citadel to the highest level, the only thing left to spend your money on is the wide range of weapons, armor and items available in the town shops. Most of these items have unique abilities, so be sure to read the descriptions of everything before you decide to spend your money.

If you don’t feel like dealing with the story and you just want a quick skirmish, Puzzle Quest has you covered. There’s an Instant Action mode that automatically sets up a fight against a matched opponent, or you can opt to choose your own opponent. When I was trying to capture a gryphon mount, for example, I fought a few of them here first to make sure I had defeated three before I found another one in quest mode. There’s also a multi-card, multiplayer mode where you can battle head to head against a friend.

There’s so much going right for this game that I hate to bring up anything negative, but it needs to be said: The music is godawful annoying. Not only that but it skips and pops all over the place. Since I can turn the volume down in the settings it’s not so bad, but I have no idea how anyone could have overlooked this mess!

Aside from this flaw, the game works wonderfully. The controls, while simple, work exactly as they should. And most importantly, I can’t seem to put it down. Let’s hope D3 gets their act together and gets more Puzzle Quest on the shelves so I’m not the only junkie out there.