If the demo is anything to go by, Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition is great


Expect thoughts on the final version at launch

Free-to-play games often have a bad reputation, especially on the mobile platform. Puzzle & Dragonsis one such game to rise to the occasion, offering up a good amount of gameplay for free, and has completely dominated the match-three space enough to will Nintendo into a partnership with it.

So here we are withPuzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition for the 3DS. I have to say, even if you have a problem with free-to-play hard-coded in your DNA, you’ll likely enjoy this iteration, which does away with the scheme entirely.

In case you missed it, a demo for the game is out today on 3DS, and it’s pretty fantastic. You’ll have the option to select from “Intro” or “Expert” modes (ha, what a jump!), and truth be told the entire affair can be picked up in about 60 seconds. Using the stylus for everything you’ll move orbs freely around on the bottom screen, trying to earn a match of three or more colors, or combos as you see fit.

I really like how smooth the game is in general, as gameplay is relatively straight-forward and fast-paced — you need to make a move before your opponent does or risk being counter-attacked and losing your turn, just like an active-time-battle in a JRPG. The animations could be a lot sharper, particularly the wonky and plain text, but the Marioanimation style works perfectly within the confines of Puzzle & Dragons, and the 3D effect is excellent.

Upon playing the Expert level you’ll see that it’s not just a standard match-three, as you’ll acquire new party members (all from the Marioseries) after defeating enemies, which have unique skills to take advantage of. Matching up certain colors will trigger specific team members, and thus their powers, which can come in handy in a pinch. It’s not something that will take you weeks to master, but it’s enough depth to keep me interested.

Although the demo only provides a glimpse at the Marioside of the package,Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition will essentially be two games in one, with the classic Dragons experience knitted into it. Leading up to launch I’ve heard of many readers picking it up just for one of those two pieces, so it was genius of Nintendo and GungHo Online Entertainmentto package it like this.

Go check out the demo and see for yourself. You can play the full version on May 8 in the Europe, and May 22 in the US.