“You got your dungeons and dragons in my bejeweled!”

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I like going on quests, I like solving puzzles, I like hitting things with battle axes and when I feel like it, rending the flesh off my foes with brilliant magic. I’ve played RPG titles like Fallout, Morrowind, Baulder’s Gate and I’ve played puzzle games like Bejeweled, Peggle and Tetris, but never have I played a game that combined both. The world could never create such a thing and if they did it would be a train wreck. Well, move over chocolate and peanut butter, a new combo is in town and it’s called Puzzle Quest.

The puzzle part of this game is Bejeweled. You look at the board and try to match up 3 or more pieces. We have red, blue, green and yellow gems that represent fire, water, earth and wind. You slide one piece at a time and can move it up, down left or right. When you make a connection you gain that color type to your respective mana bar. Got it? If not you might want to give up because even my Grandma can play Bejeweled.

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Where things start to get tricky is in the Quest part of this puzzle. You have stars, coins and skulls thrown into the mix. Matching a star gives you experience, used to level up your character. Coins give you money to buy magical items for your character to take into battle. Skulls cause hit point damage to your opponents in battle. Yes, battles, weapons, armor, magic and experience points, now we are getting to the meat of this game, Grandma, you might want to go back to Bejeweled.

Instead of playing random levels or advancing the next level with a cute little background change, you start a quest, from a castle and explore the map. You get quests, which really are no more complicated then go here and fight “play a round of bejeweled against” monsters. But the simple gimmick of leveling up your character, learning combat moves and magic spells, using better weapons and playing towards something other then a high score makes this game compelling to play. It takes the already fun parts of Bejeweled and makes it more intense.

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This game should be horrible. The “story” could be written by children, the voice acting is “I made my family do it” bad and the art often looks like crude anime drawn by a DBZ fan. It’s junk food, it has no place in my modern gaming system, yet I find myself playing it for hours on end trying to get a better wand or that magical 5x combo rainfall of explosions and gems. Try the demo, even if you don’t like puzzle games much, it’s simple enough, fun and just the thing to pass the time you could be using to better yourself. Those magic gems ain’t going to sort themselves! Get to it!

Puzzle Quest is currently out for the Wii, DS, PS2, PSN, Xbox Live and PC. I think an iPhone version is in the works too. A new expansion pack is out on the PSN and Xbox Live, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet. I’m sure it’s new character classes, weapons and monsters will give me even more reason to keep playing this game.

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