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Video Game: Puzzle & Dragons

Puzzle and Dragons is a Japanese puzzle/role-playing game for the iOS developed by GungHo Online Entertainment. Puzzle and Dragons is overwhelmingly popular in Japan, making a profit of US$54 million a month. To put it in perspective, over the past year (as of 2013) Gungho's profit had (at one point) exceeded that of Nintendo, largely by this game alone. And according to App Annie's 2013 Retrospective Report, its revenue in 2013 had even surpassed Candy Crush Saga.

The player has a team of monsters, and explores dungeons to fight other monsters. To attack, the player must line up three or more orbs of the same element. As in Pokémon, defeated monsters may be caught by the player and used on his own team. Each monster has an element, and each element has a strength or weakness toward another. The gameplay itself is rather straightforward, but creating a strong and rounded team of monsters can take a lot of time, with some monsters being much more powerful and rarer than the others.

Despite being very, very popular in Asia, the game is almost unknown in America due to the immediate lack of an English release. However, the game was translated to English and released on the iPad and Android, and two English wikis and forums are already being built. As of October 2014, this game has achieved 40 million downloads worldwide (only counting store downloads), with North America version achieved 6 million downloads as of January 2015.

Puzzle & Dragons Z, a more traditional (as in it has trading, and no in-app purchases... at least, not like the original game) title, has been released for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan.

Puzzle & Dragons Battle Tournament is the arcade version released in Japan. In a collaboration with Square Enix, it is geared toward 1 vs 1 player competition.

Puzzle & Dragons W is a side game to PAD, only available in Japan. It plays much differently than the main game, though.

Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition is a Super Mario Bros. themed version made for the Nintendo 3DS. Both this and Z will be released in North America in May 2015.

The main web site is here.

Includes examples of:

  • Anthropomorphic Food: Some of the monsters. Especially the Gunma series which has a walking leek, cabbage and konjac and the Takaoka City Series where one of the monsters is Udon.
  • Anti-Poop Socking : The game tells you to not spend more than an hour per day playing this game in one of the hint boxes.
  • Ars Goetia: The evolved forms of the four Archdemons besides Lucifer have designs that hearken to their Lesser Key description — a neat touch, since other than Amon, they're pretty well known outside of grimoires (Belial, Baal, and Astaroth). Amon even has his sigil inscribed on his chest.
  • Art Evolution: As new monsters get released, so does the style of the art. In particular are monsters who received ultimate evolutions, like the Greco-Roman and Japanese 1.0 series. For example: Ceres and Ceres' primary ultimates evo forms and "awoken" ultimate evo form.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory:
    • Magic Stones. They are used for certain premium actions, such as receiving a continue after being defeated during dungeons, restoring your stamina if you don't want to wait out the timed recovery, using the Rare Egg Machine, or increasing your monster box cap. They can be acquired for free by completing certain dungeons or receiving certain promotional messages from the staff, or purchased with real-world money. However, the game is completely playable without spending a penny.
    • There's the coin dungeons, which require at least 1 million gold each to run for 1 hour. Need king jewel dragons but don't want to wait for it to descend? Pay 3 million gold to run "King Carnival". Missed your opportunity to get some evo materials? Pay 5 million gold to run "Together at Last! Evo Rush!!". Need really high level evolution materials? Pay 5 million for "Together at Last! Rare Evo Rush!!" Need TAMADRAs? Pay 10 million to run "TAMADRA Village" for guaranteed drops and a chance to skill up your Odin cards with Odin TAMADRA. This is really in full effect with "Together at Last! Evo Rush!!" and "King Carnival" because they're considered "Metal Dragon" dungeons, which descend for a hour depending on the day, your ID number and group. The rest of the other coin dungeons are either harder versions of existing technical dungeons, dragon rush dungeons, or previous biweekly dungeons. Also, since you are spending so many coins to use a dungeon for an hour, your stamina won't replenish that much in that time, so many players will use Magic Stones multiple times to make the most of coin dungeons.
  • Canon Immigrant: The player characters and creatures from the arcade version and 3DS version appear as possible party additions on the classic version. Heck, there was a Z collab dungeon.
  • Cast from Hit Points: See HP to One.
  • Color-Coded Elements
  • Cool Bike: Beelzebub has a Fly-tercycle.
  • Cooldown Manipulation: Players can lower the cooldown of a monsters skills by feeding it other monsters with the same skill
    • Monsters might also have skill boosts which decrease the cooldown of a skill upon entering a dungeon.
  • Cross Over: Occasionally there are collaboration events with other franchises, including other games from GungHo, Crystal Defender, Taiko No Tatsujin......and even Neon Genesis Evangelion, Monster Hunter, and Hunter × Hunter.
  • Compilation Re-release: Well, not rerelease, but Puzzle & Dragons Z and Super Mario Bros. Edition will be bundled together in North America and Europe.
  • Cute Bruiser: Too many to count. Many of the most powerful monsters are Pint Sized Powerhouses (Bastet or Haku for example) or Girly Bruisers (Valkyries and Pandora) or just Fanservice in general. (Almost all the female monsters though "Keeper of Paradise, Metatron" is the outstanding example, being Metatron but in a bikini. "Holy Night Santa Claus, Hera" is also another example where it's Hera cosplaying as Santa Claus; it's also the "cutest" example of all the regular Heras save for Hera-Sowilo.)
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: Z, Battle Tournament and W are significantly different in terms of gameplay to the original. For Z, Skills are used by saving "skill points" from matching orbs and taking hits, but there's a top limit for that, so it's pretty common to not have enough points to use all the skills. As for Battle Tournament, there's no time limit for matching orbs, and since both players will match their orbs at the same time, it's crucial to choose between doing high combos or attacking more frequently. For W, you get a bigger board, but your combos need to match the level requirements or it won't damage the DeviTAMA. Jammers don't disappear unless you match orbs adjacent to it. Heart orbs replenish level turn count, as opposed to health.
  • Deal with the Devil: A few monsters have leader abilities that are valuable but come at a great cost.
    • Pompurin has a leader skill that guarantees 3.5x multiplier for attack at a cost of halving your healing.
    • And then there's Satan, who has a leader skill that's great for devil teams. However, he has -9999 RCV, meaning that Heart Orbs are useless since they can't heal the team. note  That doesn't prevent users from putting in a fully awoken "Fertility Deity, Evil Ceres" in the team as an insurance policy. note 
  • Difficult but Awesome: Egyptian Gods, Chinese Celestials, Umisachi&Yamasachi, both Kalis, and Hero Gods. Hard to use, hard to master, and require powerful teammates to be effective, but they're the most effective dungeon breakers. Hell Deity Jackal Anubis is worth a special mention: two of them will dismantle ANY bosses in the game, but achieving 10 combo every single round note  requires extreme skill and luck. BAO Robin and BAO Robin + E.Stick deserve mention because he plays similarly to the Anubis cards.
  • Difficulty Spike: For regular dungeons, "King of the Underworld" can easily kill you if you don't have strong enough monsters, especially for the boss. "King of the Gods" of "Starlight Sanctuary" is another spike for many.
    • For technical dungeons, the second conditional dungeon has a significant spike because you will need to have all six monsters have dual attributes with different colors.
    • For descended dungeons, "Hera Descended" was considered this because this is the easiest of all descended dungeons until it became permanently available.
    • On the "Challenge Dungeons", while levels 1-3 are a cakewalk, level 4 starts hitting you hard with late bloomer dragons and they don't let up from there, especially when they have hard-to-kill skill up monsters.
  • Double Unlock: You won't be able to see or attempt "Extreme God Rush" and "Extreme Hera Rush" until you have reached rank/level 165 AND have cleared "Starlight Sanctuary". Why rank 165? Because your maximum stamina will then match the stamina requirements for both dungeons note . If you're a newer user and reached rank 165 and wonder why you can't see those dungeons on those days... Well... The game doesn't tell you you have to complete Starlight Sanctuary.
  • Dungeon Crawling
  • Elemental Powers:
  • Engrish: The game is almost perfectly translated, but the English still sometimes sounds awkward.
    • The most notable example is probably the title. Shouldn't it be Puzzles and Dragons?
    • When asking if you're old enough to buy the in-game currency: "Are you over teen?" before it got corrected to "Please confirm that you're not a minor."
    • Some of the monster names can also be a little iffy at times. Ultimate evolved gods in particular often have "attributes" added to their names that could only be described as word-salad.
    • Notably, one of the official wallpapers mistranslates "Hera" to "Hela".
  • Fixed Damage Attack: There are a few monsters that do a small amount of damage, ignoring enemy element and defense. Ra, the Tenth Angel, and Bane for example.
  • Follow the Leader: Let's just say many mimic App games pop out to the field after this game's success. Especially in Asia. Lost Palace, for instance, is a pretty shameless rip-off.
  • Gameplay Grading: Limited time dungeons now come with this feature. The game only grades you on the last level of the dungeon series, be it on Master (only on three level dungeons), Legend (earlier dungeons) or Mythical (later dungeons). They will grade you on rarity (less rare = higher score), average combo and number of turns. There is a purpose to this: if you get an "S" rank, you will get a TAMADRA.
  • Guide Dang It: Many of the Dungeon unlocks, Ult Evos and daily dungeon information is not available anywhere in the game. Luckily, there are wikis and forums for you to look up information.
    • Descends are difficult even with a guide. Without one, it's almost guarantee that you may get hit with a powerful attack, monster bind or another nasty surprise and die at some point, losing precious stamina in the process.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • Legend difficulty, mostly in biweekly dungeons (with another name in some Cross Over dungeons). It's the only difficulty that guarantees that the area's boss will drop in this case. There's also Mythical above Legend, which is in most "Descended" dungeons which can have one, the other, or both. Generally, Legend will not guarantee a boss drop if there's a Mythical difficulty, which does guarantee it. The newer biweekly dragon dungeons now include Mythical as the last level.
    • Three words: Extreme God Rush, the hardest dungeon to date.
    • Three more words: Extreme Hera Rush.
    • Another three words: Extreme Devil Rush. The difficulty for those three dungeons? Legend Plus.
    • Yet another three words: Extreme Dragon Rush. It's a Legend Plus dungeon as well. It's also the first time players will face a enemynote  who use a skill that reduces the current HP by 100%, which means certain death without proper preparations.
    • Six words: "Together at Last! Rare Evo Rush!!". The difficulty is similar to a Legend Plus, with all the bosses from Mythical versions of daily dungeons, and it requires just as much stamina to run.
  • Horny Devils: Some of the female characters, mostly associated with Dark type ones. The Heras are the shining example of these.
  • Highly Visible Ninjas: All of them.
  • HP to One: Quite a few enemies in descended dungeons have gravities, which reduce your hp to 1% of your current hpnote . Also, Archangel Lucifer, Noah and Lu Bu have active skills that, while very powerful, reduce your HP to 1.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: In order from easiest to hardest:
    • Novice
    • Int(ermediate)
    • Expert
    • Master
    • Legend, and its variants according to the collaboration (in parentheses):
      • Matsuri? (Takaoka City)
      • Gold (Angry Birds), Extra-Spicy (Angry Birds Epic)
      • Universe (GROOVE COASTER)
      • Heaven Sent (ECO)
      • Kingdom (Hello Kitty)
      • Kai (Dragon Ball Z)
      • Paradise (Gunma)
      • Blessed (2014 Christmas Dungeon)
      • Z (Puzzle and Dragon Z)
      • Cosmo (Saint Seiya)
    • Mythical and SuperBlessed (2014 Christmas Dungeon)
    • Legend Plus
  • Interface Spoiler: Before version 6.5, if you do not have enough maximum stamina, you would see the last remaining dungeon in a series. As of 7.0, you won't be able to see certain daily, collaboration or descended dungeons until you have enough maximum stamina.
  • Last Chance Hit Point: Giants, the Titan line and Viper Orochi have a Leader Skill that will stop your HP at 1 if your HP is above a certain percentage when an enemy attack will otherwise kill you; Tengu has a similar ability. But, if the OHKO is a multi-hit attack, you're pretty much dead.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Averted for Type-Restricted Conditional and Elemental Conditional Dungeons. For example, Zhang Fei's dungeons requires all monsters to either have a Physical or Attacker attribute. However, this only applies to main attribute. So if you tried to use Kenshin or Shingen Samurai Dragons, PAD will not accept it because both have the required type as secondary attributes. The same goes for Elemental Conditional Dungeons. Noah's dungeons requires all five elements; they must be present as main elemental types, NOT secondary element types.
      • Later subverted when sub-types and sub-elements are allowed in conditionals in 7.6.
    • Encouraged for conditional leader skills which activate if any of X colors or sub-types attack. It's common to use sub elements to fulfill the conditional leader skills meaning that users can build a mostly single color team to maximize damage in a single attack.
  • Luck-Based Mission:
    • Rare Egg Machine pulls. You spend 5 Magic Stones for one pull, and God help your mobile device from being whacked if you receive some weak, repetitive, or hard-to-use monsters...But at the same time you may get powerful monsters by one pull.
    • The game plays in both ways. On the one hand, many powerful monsters can only be acquired by the aforementioned pulls, but you can still get many useful ones via normal gameplay, especially Figure Descend Dungeons. If you're skilled enough, you won't even need to spend any Magic Stones for that. Skill upgrades, however, completely fit this trope. One can fill up Skill Levels by powering up with only that amount of monsters...Or feeding dozens of monsters without even raising one Skill Level.
    • For the gameplay itself, this trope also works in both ways. Number of Combos (and thus, attack power and healing amount) are based on players' skills, but falling blocks can either allow you to get healed, get another combo to activate Leader Skills...Or screwing up your strategy (when using Ishikawa Goemonnote , for example).
  • Magical Girl: So many.
  • Magikarp Power: Though many, many monsters become infinitely more powerful in their later forms (including things like Athena who goes from almost-useless to ridiculously-powerful on her ultimate evolution, or simply things like Dark Metatron who gain insane versatility in their Ultimate Form), this trope is at its strongest when we talk about Amaterasu, who, despite sharing the best healing ability in the game with Ceres (being the only ability that guarantees to heal all of your binds and heal you to full) also has one of the weakest leader skills in the game (heals your HP for an amount equal to her (not that big at this point) recovery stat every turn). Evolving her, however, not only gives her a massive boost in recovery, but also makes her leader skill literally five times as strong and makes her bind-immune if you give her all of her awoken skillsnote . Both of her ultimates take it up another notch. Her first (Called Dancing Light, Amaterasu Ohkami) adds another multiplier to her leader healing skill making her the single most potent healer in the game. On top of that, her leader skill now multiplies the attack of all God-type monsters by 1.5, making her very viable. Her alternate ultimate evolution (Dancing Flame, Amaterasu Ohkami) turns her into an ultra-capable Combat Medic; she keeps the powerful healing from her pre-ultimate form but becomes an attacker and triples the ATK of all Attacker types on the team on top of that, making her very useful in late-game dungeons.
  • Match Three Game:
    • With a twist! Instead of only being able to move the orbs to adjacent and diagonal squares, you can actually grab them and move them all over the place, displacing other orbs in the process. In fact, you will most likely need to do this, as the game quickly ramps up its difficulty and setting up combos this way has to become part of your skill-set if you want to succeed.
    • Combo count also affects the amount of HP recovery (if Health orb is matched), so trying to do big combos is necessary.
    • Combo count also affects how much HP you lose if you match poison orbs. Luckily, the HP loss doesn't multiply and is instantly cancelled out by heart orb multipliers.
  • Mechanical Monster: Mechdragons, Legendary Mech Dragon, Artifact Dragons, and others.
  • Mon: Type I.
  • Non Indicative Name: Was the case for the Valkyries, especially in relation to Light Valkyrie's Descended dungeon name, "The Goddess Descended." Now the secondary Ultimate Evolution for Valkyries are part-God type.
  • No Plot? No Problem!:
    • iOS/Android version, at least. Puzzle & Dragons Z, on the other hand, does have a plot.
    • The arcade version, along with actually visible player characters, also has a story mode.
  • No Sell: Some stronger opponents will block status effects or absorb a certain type of attack or attacks without enough combos.
    • Some monsters also have active skills which can nullify attacks for a certain number of turns, if only against certain elements.
    • If one manage to stack 20 damage-reducing Awoken skill of a single Element in a single teamnote , one can completely nullify attacks from monsters of that element. It's not too practical in most cases though.
  • One Time Dungeon: A variant. Anniversary and holiday events usually contain a one time dungeon which is really easy to beat. Which means free monster and a free stone. Except for "Cave of Dreaming" and "Sky Prison", which got integrated into daily dungeons once GungHo realized that the evolution materials from the bosses were needed more often than once in a blue moon. "Gift from the World Tree" is actually a subversion as players have two chances at getting the desired fruit dragon.
  • Our Dragons Are Different:
    • All kinds of dragons can be found in the game, if the title wasn't a tipoff. Angelic dragons, demonic dragons, dragons with two to eight heads, tiny dragons, cute dragons, ugly dragons, robotic dragons, elemental dragons, eastern dragons, western dragons, flower dragons, insect dragons, barley dragons...Takes Up to Eleven for Artifact Dragons, which are essentially dragonic objects.
    • Jewel/Metal Dragons can be used in power-up fusions to provide a dramatic EXP boost.
  • Our Gods Are Greater: Many of the monsters are literally humanoid gods, and are categorized in the 'god' class as being powerful, but hard to level and maintain. These monsters are even named and modeled after deities from their respective mythologies.
  • Palette Swap: Many grunts and most Godfest-exclusive monsters suffer from this, but Valkyrie was the worst offender at four recolors.note  The secondary ultimates (i.e. ultimate evolutions of ultimate evolutions) mostly avert this, fortunately.note 
  • Physical God: The God class characters, save for Archangels and a few others like Noah.
  • Power Creep:
    • Despite the surprisingly balanced gameplay note , as new characters and monsters come out, the earlier monsters can become underpowered in comparison. To compensate this, some monsters will receive Ultimate Evolutions, or got their Active Skills and Leader Skills adjusted, in order to make them viable again; but some monsters which haven't receive such treatments will keep falling behind.
    • In the game's early days, 9x Attack power (by 2 Zeus) is the highest standard (with 4x and 6.25x being "normal" teams); now any teams under 12.25x (two 3.5x) are almost obsolete - unless they have ways of increasing damage. note 
    • Lucifer was (and still is) a powerful Game Breaker, but since his release, dungeons with more powerful monsters with more HP have appeared, including newer enemy skills (like Preemptive strikes), making him much more of a Disc One Nuke.invoked
    • Percent Damage Attacks like Ultra Gravity were once the most effective way to bring high-HP monsters down without resorting to combo gods, but then Goemon and later the Sonia family (alongside row enhancement Awakenings) among others have made it so much less useful that it became a permanently available dungeon.
  • Random Effect Spell: The Joker's active skill which when activated, randomly picks one to use out of 10 possible options.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Too many to count.
  • RPG Elements: Leveling, experience, stats, et cetera despite being a puzzle game.
  • Rule 63: A few. Despite being based on male figures, monsters like Archangel Metatron and Noah are female.
  • Scratch Damage:
    • No matter how much defense an enemy has, each attack will always, ALWAYS do at least one point of damage.
    • Many enemies and bosses have ludicrously high defense, but only double-digit figures of HP, meaning you just have to hit them that many times to defeat them, at 1 damage per hit.
    • You can usually bypass this problem altogether with poison skills, percent damage skills or fixed-damage skills, which damage HP directly. Since Poison is considered a debuff, enemy shields can and will nullify and/or preemptively cancel the debuff.
  • Sixth Ranger: Green Skydragon Elysium, Blue Flamedragon Muspelheim and Chaos Blizzard Dragon to their respective themes. They all lack evolutions that the main members have, they share elements with one of the other members yet they share skills with one of the other members of their families, and they are semi-rare "invade" encounters in their respective dungeons.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Enemies with the potential to One-Hit Kill you are marked "Strong". The "Strong" warning does not appear if you have enough HP to easily withstand one attack. In Normal Dungeons, this means you need to power up your existing monsters and pick up more powerful ones, and in Special Dungeons if you see "Strong" over every enemy you most likely picked the wrong dungeon.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: There're absolutely no point of not evolving all the monsters you have...Except if you're preparing for Condition Limited Descended Dungeons. Many high-end monsters and/or teams are barred from entrance due to their types, high costs and/or rarity, making their "useless" counterparts have chances to shine.
  • Valkyries: The Valkyrie series of course.
  • Whammy:
    • Enemies that cause certain orbs to change to jammers or poison orbs. While there are awoken skills that can prevent this from happening, there are only three creatures that can change them into something useful (i.e. Chester's Dimensional and Twilight versions, who both have Gravity Room to change them into heart orbs, and the still-to-be-released-in-English Dragon Emperor Defoud, who changes jammers to light orbs.). Full board changer skills (The Chinese gods, Kali and Sonias) and the "Orb Refresh" skill can reset the whole board, ridding of those whammies.
    • Beelzebub's pre-emptive changes the entire board to poison orbs in his descend. Unless you have a full board changer or an orb refresh ready, consider it game over.
  • Title Drop: The title for Grand Sonia's active skill is literally Puzzle & Dragons. Particularly meaningful when you consider that half the skill increases orb movement time by 5 seconds and the second half buffs dragons for a turn.
  • Yet Another Stupid Death: A classic way to die is forgetting to heal when you're low on HP and an enemy monster has their turn next.