Puzzle Quest Galactrix
In space, no one can hear you chain together multiple combos.
D3 Publisher probably had a good idea what kind of monstrous hit it had with Puzzle Quest when it came out over a year ago. The game takes the classic formula of Bejeweled and combines it with role-playing elements, letting you power up spells, level up characters and face a barrage of unspeakable evils (including a wicked smart catapult). The game was a tremendous success for both the DS and the PSP, and now D3 is back with a DS-exclusive sequel that pulls out all the stops. Rather than follow the formula of the original, Puzzle Quest: Galactrix launches you into the deep reaches of space, where no one can hear you chain together combos.
A horrifying scientific accident causes another race to come after humanity with a vengeance. Think of it like Star Trek, but without the cool Vulcans, the troublesome Tribbles and most of the corny dialogue. You begin the game by choosing a certain class of soldiers and spaceship, then fly into the unfriendly galaxy to confront whatever gets in your way as you attempt to make peace. You'll come across a slew of unfavorable political factions that want nothing more than to blast you from the sky, and you'll need to constantly use upgrades and power-ups to assure your survival.
Now here's the catch. Rather than confront these space vessels in real-time combat, you resort to a puzzle grid, with six sides rather than the rectangular shape that the first Puzzle Quest uses. You still slide together three or more pieces of the same color into a row to eliminate them from the playfield. Each color has a skill set of some kind, and each match-up gets you closer to access to special attacks, such as asteroids and lasers. If you feel like doing direct damage to your opponent, you can also match up three or more bomb pieces to chip away at their energy.
This style of play works just as well for Galactrix as it does for the original. You'll piece together combos and execute special attacks just as gleefully as you did with the first game, and the inclusion of a multiplayer mode (via two Nintendo DS systems) assures hours of fun against others. The single-player AI is equally challenging, as it'll take advantage of bomb pieces and special attacks just like you would. There's a whole galaxy full of threats to take down, so there's no shortage of fun. The fact that you can power up your ship helps as well, especially as you face stronger enemies.
So far, the presentation looks great. The puzzle grid is easy to see and the space map has plenty of exciting places to explore.
We'll be back next week with a review of Galactrix, and let you know if this is the kind of deep space you'll want to explore. So far, however, there's no argument from us. It'll be sweet.