Puzzle Quest is a series of games from Infinite Interactive. At their base, they are Match Three Games with RPG Elements. In each game, battles are fought by matching up various gems and other symbols on a grid. Depending on what the player matches up, the gems will turn into one of various types of mana or energy to use for spells/attacks, damage to the enemy, or bonus experience or money. The player can expand their power through the use of various mini-games, which represent Item Crafting, learning new spells, or leveling up.The games in the series include:
Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords: The first and most popular game in the series, based on the award-winning Warlords series of Real-Time Strategy games.
There are four classes, each of which with different priorities for the different gem types. For example, the warrior focuses on dealing more damage with skulls while the mage uses mostly red mana. Character stats more or less correlate with each of the gem types, increasing their effect when matched up.
Except for your home city (which is already under your banner), all main cities on the map can be captured. This enables you to access a keep in that city, where you can train mounts, research spells, and use runes to improve weapons. You will also receive gold each time you visit a captured city.
After a PC demo was released, the game was ported to the Nintendo DS and PSP and released in early 2007. It performed surprisingly well with players and critics and ended up being ported to pretty much every system, including an expansion for the Xbox 360 and iPhone versions.
Puzzle Quest: Galactrix: a science fiction-themed follow-up, released in February 2009. Your character is a newly-minted recruit from a Mega Corp. that trains and employs those gifted with psionic abilities. While on a routine investigative mission, you and your mentor, Sable, stumble across a decimated research station and evidence of a galaxy-spanning threat. The game uses a hexagonal grid rather than an orthogonal one, and the direction that gems enter the field usually depends on the direction the selected piece moved. It suffered from similar supply shortages upon release.
Puzzle Kingdoms was released in May 2009. It takes place in a remixed version of Warlord's world of Etheria and adds RTS-style troop and resource management to the mix. You play as the heir to your small kingdom's leadership. You take it upon yourself to find the source of the sudden famine that has stricken your land, only to stumble across a plot by the god of famine. It features a puzzle style similar to Pokémon Trozei.
Puzzle Chronicles was released mid-April 2010 for many systems, featuring a desert theme and a gameplay style similar to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. In it, you play as a member of a desert tribe looking to free his enslaved people and gain revenge on the slavers that captured them. Puzzle Quest 2 appears to be based on this game.
Puzzle Quest 2: a true sequel to the original; styled more on MMORPGs, including a town hub and NPCs with exclamation points over their heads who give you quests, was released on June 22, 2010 for DS, Windows, iPhone, and the Xbox Live Arcade. This is a considerably simplified and easier version, though possibly with more balanced pvp.
There is also a spinoff called Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign that combines slightly altered mechanics with a storyline and characters based on the Marvel Avengers Alliance universe.note Though it appears Dark Reign is a PQ game In Name Only - the game play and leveling system are direct lifts from Puzzle And Dragons. Infinite Interactive was a consultant on Dark Reign's design, though, and it was published by the same publisher that handles the other PQ games.
Lampshade Hanging: An April Fool's website by the creator explained how to turn off AI cheating. Also, one of the achievements in the Xbox 360 version of Puzzle Quest 2 is "Cheating AI: be defeated by an opponent on their first turn in any single player game mode".
Marvel Puzzle Quest has swerved unabashedly into this territory with the addition of Assist Characters. You get to choose one from amongst your tokens before the match begins, and any of the up-to-six characters who are actually fighting in the match are off-limits. The opponent suffers no such limitations.
Crippling Overspecialization: Leaning too heavily on one type of mana/energy can leave you at the mercy of a more well rounded enemy, doubly so in Warlords if the enemy in question has resistance to your favored mana type.
In the original PQ, you can invade and take over entire cities as tyrannical overlord, and nobody bats an eye in the main plotline (or cares that you're the tyrant of their city when they send you on quests.)
Glass Cannon: The Wizard class in Warlords, Ram, Catapult, and Trebuchet units in Kingdoms, PQ2's Sorcerer class. Especially the PQ 2 Sorcerer.
Item Crafting: Via a mini-game. One of the series' biggest hooks.
Level Scaling: Enemies are automatically scaled to your level in the story modes of 'Warlords and Kingdoms.
Luck-Based Mission: The crafting and spell research systems. Even worse in Galactrix, with time limits and junk blocks. To elaborate, it's game over when there are no moves left on the board. It is possible to prevent some dead ends by thinking a lot of steps ahead, but ultimately you'll still have to cross your fingers and hope the AI will be benevolent. For once.
Mega Manning: You can learn multiple enemy spells (or enemy equipment in Galactrix) via a mini-game.
Mook Chivalry: All battles are one-on-one. When you encounter groups of foes, they're usually fought in sequence. Averted in Kingdoms, where every unit with enough mana can attack in the same turn.
The Obi-Wan: Sunspear in Warlords, Sable in Galactrix, Gideon in Kingdoms.
Point Build System: You get 4-5 points per level up. In Warlords, you can purchase more at your citadel.
Purely Aesthetic Gender: The only real change in any game is in how Princess Serephine interacts with your character in Warlords. Otherwise, gender choice only affects whether characters refer to you as male or female. PQ2 adds in voice-overs in male or female voice.
Unpredictable Results: Multiple spells/attacks destroy random gems on the board for various effects. Some other skills randomly transform gems into a certain color, skulls, or even wildcard spaces. In Kingdom, units with Ranged attacks will attack a random enemy unit.
All-Powerful Bystander: The elder dragon Kelthurax, who would rather sleep than find out who kidnapped ALL of his dragon brethren (save Flicker).
Artificial Stupidity: Despite all the claims of the AI acting as though it knows what the offscreen gems are, it still makes some pretty obvious blunders. Namely, not using an available skull match or damage spell when doing either one WILL finish you off (even if you're not equipping anything that has even a 10% chance of lessening damage).
Boy Meets Ghoul: Darkhunter's backstory, as revealed through his side quests; the girl to whom he was engaged has been turned into an undead monster.
Brick Joke: When you acquire the minotaur god Lord Sartek's Ribs, if Drong is in your party, he expresses a desire to eat them; the player character promises he can eat the next god they come across. Guess what happens after you kill Lord Bane, his brother?
Continuity Nod: The game takes place in Etheria, the setting of the Warlords 4X series. The background of the story takes place 500 years after the Banewars, the main campaign of Warlords 3.
Cool Big Sis: If the player character is female and the Serephine sidequests are pursued, Serephine will make remarks indicating that she views the player character in this light. The player character does not altogether share this view.
Death Seeker: Darkhunter looks like this pretty often, especially when you learn about his tragic past. He probably relegated himself to perdition long before Greythane declared such.
One would cause your saved heroes to get spontaneously deleted.
In the other, using the Home button to close the game in the middle of a cutscene could cause the event flag not to trigger and leave you unable to cancel the mission and restart, possibly resulting in an Unwinnable by Mistake scenario. In the other versions, the game would simply restart the cutscene.
The iPhone version would randomly erase saved characters or lock out incomplete missions. The announced level cap increase isn't there (you still max out at 50) and the game possesses several harmless, but annoying recurring graphical glitches (most notably, replacing the images of multiple enemy types on the world map with that of an Arboleth).
Not quite game breaking, but the original Playstation Portable release was misprogrammed so that allies' abilities never activated.
Giant Spider: Comes in three flavors: a usual one, one that howls like a wolf, and a fire-breathing one. The latter is the favored mount of Fighter and Wizard players.
Hoist by His Own Petard: The arkliches come equipped with an item that turns one random tile into a +5 skull for each 8 points of damage they take. However, if the skulls explode immediately because they were spawned in alignment with the skulls already on board, it will count as part of your turn and the enemy will take damage (and spawn more skulls). If you get lucky, your random attack may cause the arkliche to (figuratively speaking) spontaneously explode mid-battle.
Honor Before Reason: The elder dragon Kelthurax is not only extremely old and powerful, but also a loner who doesn't like to be awakened or bothered. In one of Elistara's quests, she feels honor-bound not only to wake him and tell him of her mount's death, but ask him to be her new mount. Amazingly, he lets her live.
Jerkass: Emperor Selentius. After helping him with various problems, he responds to a request from Queen Gwendholyn for help against the undead problem with, basically, "Not my problem." Even his own subjects think he's useless and corrupt.
The Load: Princess Serephine. Putting her in your party gives you a nice amount of gold and a useful item, and she comes in handy if/when you take on the Knightly Order subquest. But other than unlocking a couple of sidequests (all of which involve rescuing or protecting her from the men her father sends to bring her back), she's pretty useless and can be safely cut loose to make room for Winter or Elistara.
Galnoth (Plague Lords/iOS) is even worse. He gives you a 15% boost in green mana resistance when fighting elves or dwarves, and nothing else. Did we mention you'll only fight Dark Dwarves, who use red-mana based spells?
A Load of Bull: Minotaurs play an important part in the game. These include party member Sunspear and Lord Sartek, the minotaurs' god, who has the form of a huge minotaur himself. Also, among the bad guys there are minotaur slavers, undead Skelotaurs (minotaur skeletons), undead minotaur Doomknights, and even a giant clockwork Mechataur.
Lost Forever: If you follow a certain sub-mission just before you enter Lord Bane's keep, you will lose one of your good-aligned companionsnote Darkhunter, Khalkus, Serephine, Flicker, Winter, and Elistara at every step forward.
Magikarp Power: The Broken Shield, which can become the powerful Shield of Albion. The Wizard class counts as well, since you don't really have the stats or equipment to overcome its pitiful attack stats and HP until deep into the game.
Missing Mom: Flicker's side quests involve his searching for other dragons in general, and his mother in particular.
Motor Mouth: Khalkus. Whomever he's talking with constantly has to interrupt him in order to make him get to the point.
Multiple Head Case: Dugog, the first boss, is a two-headed ogre. His extra head gives him an extra turn whenever he obtains gold.
Schrödinger's Gun: The mission "The Missive", right at the beginning of the game. Whether your missive is a feint or not depends on whether or not you defeat the Thief. Defeat him, your missive's the genuine article. He defeats you, it's a decoy.
Sealed Good in a Can: Lord Sartek… at least compared to Lord Bane. A variation, though, as he was broken into 101 pieces rather than actually sealed somewhere.
Khalkus the dwarf looks remarkably like Gimli from the movies.
Another for the Lord of the Rings: In the film of The Two Towers, Aragorn tells Éowyn that it's hard to tell male dwarves from female dwarves because of their beards, and she laughs. In the game, the player character meets a female dwarf named Khrona… who has a beard.
Spirit Advisor: Sunspear, after completing the "Age of Honor" subquests.
Tastes Like Chicken: Once you get to the Realms of War, Drong will start getting curious as to how stone tastes. Granite, porphyry, sandstone… you get the idea. He invariably describes the stuff as tasting like chicken. Although hard chicken, or gritty chicken. Then again, one of these quests triggers a rumor in Gluk, which reveals that ogres are notorious for nasty-tasting, haphazardly-designed meals. Some sages' explanation? That ogres don't have taste buds.
Victor Gains Loser's Powers: Many spells can be learnt by the player by capturing the monster that uses them (by solving a puzzle) and then learnt in the citadel (by means of a special game mode). A few spells can also be accessed by capturing a mount. However, in all cases, the player has higher mana costs than the monster that normally uses them (or the class that learns them normally).
Video Game Cruelty Punishment: Choose the less moral choice in most side missions, and you'll get stuck with a puny reward or miss out on a far superior one.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Princess Serephine's support ability uses this trope to improve your battle skill against honorable opponents that don't like to fight women.
Which is kinda weird if your character is a woman. Maybe they are only opposed to fighting ladies?
Galactrix contains examples of:
Beehive Barrier: the shields in Galactrix, at least as represented on the menus.
Fake Longevity: The minigame for opening the leapgates that are used to travel between star systems. They're all closed initially, they're everywhere on both main- and side-quest paths, they have a small chance of closing after a period of time, they have a time limit, and chains that normally help you can just eat up time when you're hacking them. Finally, you don't even get any experience or other rewards by hacking them, beyond opening up a new region.
Averted in the Steam/PC version. You get experience for hacking the leapgates, and you can also bypass them by using Psi points.
Grand Theft Me: Beta Prime takes over the body of Kirine Thwaites... and doesn't give it back!
Or not. Nobody ever says it's a theft, after all... And if you attempt to set Beta Prime free during the endgame, she instead chooses to stay with you, under the guise of Kirine Thwaites. Kirine was Beta Prime all along!
Hard-Coded Hostility: The Soulless. Every other faction, you can win favor with the through trade. The Soulless, however, have no space ports in any of their systems.
Mega Corp.: Several, each with defining traits, while still being 'corporations'. Lumina, the religious and political capital of humanity, is not led by a CEO, but by an Emperor. Trident, a weapons company structured more like a military, complete with generals. The MRI, a faction dedicated to furthering Psionic potential in humans. And Cytech, who do robotics. And not much else. Not surprisingly, Cytech is EASILY the least bastardly of the 4.
Ring Out Boss: Every fight is a ring out fight. Instead of hit points like in other Puzzle Quest games, destroying skulls pushes your side of the puzzle block towards the opponent, leaving them with less and less room to match gems with. If they run out of space, they lose.
Puzzle Kingdoms contains examples of:
A Commander Is You: The battles are your army against the opponent's army, rather than one-on-one battles as in Puzzle Quest.
Artificial Stupidity: The AI will do whatever the help arrow shows, even if it doesn't help them. It will also collect mana it CAN'T USE. And if your hp is low enough to be finished off by a weapon attack, sometimes it will use a spell.
Barrier Warrior: The Assassin class is a mix of this and Glass Cannon. His/her primary ability is to use purple mana to go into "stealth" mode, which is really just using your purple mana as a shield against damage. While in stealth, all of your "-Strike" abilities do double damage. (Strike abilities turn gems into purple gems on the screen as well as damage the opponent, so there's a lot of synergy between covering yourself and hurting the opponent).
Boss in Mook Clothing: Vampires. They have stupidly high rates of shield criticals (cutting damage taken in half, no matter how much or how little), have the egregiously overpowered spell Blood Drain (does damage equal to your current Red Mana total, heals itself for an equal amount, AND knocks your Red Mana down to zero), and spam their special weapon, Vampire Fangs (which inflicts the stackable Poison effect.)
That said, Blood Drain is pretty much all they've got. The Vampire Lords, on the other hand... they have Charm (destroys all Skulls and gains life equal to the number of Skulls destroyed) and Bat Swarm (halves your defense and causes you to take 5 damage per turn for 3 turns) in addition to the aforementioned Blood Drain and Vampire Fangs. Good luck, you'll need it.
Bonus Boss: Five of them (Kurak the polar bear, the Yeti, the Cave Ogre, the Arch Lich, and the Green Dragon). They're unlocked automatically as you level up, so you can tackle them at your leisure or not at all.
Bragging Rights Reward: Beating the Bonus Bosses in the handheld and retail PC versions gives you a rather insignificant amount of gold and XP, considering the lengths you'll need to go to in order to defeat them. You don't even get the achievements of the Xbox LIVE Arcade or Steam versions.
Demonic Spider: The Berzerker and its Enrage/Berserk Rage combo. Neither spell has a recharge time, and Berserk Rage can be spammed as long as red mana levels are high enough. And unlike its PQ1 equivalent, Berserk Rage works on any color gem, not just red. A Berserker with a fortunate board setup can literally wipe you out before you have a chance to retaliate.
Evil All Along: Your in-game guides, The Mother, The Maiden, and The Crone, were all a part of the Big Bad.
Luck-Based Mission: The Yeti. Thanks to its high Strength stat, one cascade can grant him enough red mana to cast "Crushing Kill". Five normal gem matches will get him there as well.
On the other hand, clearing red gems (whether that's done by you or the Yeti) will actually hurt it. But it will be healed anytime blue gems are cleared. To make matters worse, it has a spell called "Ice Breath" that changes 14 random gems to Blue Gems — frequently causing it to get several extra turns and fully heal itself. The battle can EASILY end up wearing on until the Crushing Kill.
The Arch-Lich is also stupid-annoying, thanks to its absurdly high Morale stat making it near-impossible to cast spells. Putting every single skill point into your Intelligence stat is the only way you'll have a reasonable chance of using your spells, so if your play style relies on them, you're screwed eight ways to Sunday, no questions asked.
Mighty Glacier: Templars, especially later when you gain access to Templar-only plate armor and the Tower Shield. You'll be able to outlast anything short of the Green Dragon. (And you'll even be able to outlast the Green Dragon with the right setup.)
Obvious Rule Patch: Gold pieces and purple experience stars in the first game became less and less worth your time as the game progressed, so here, they're gone entirely, replaced with Purple Mana (shadow-element) and Fists, which are used to fuel your weapon/item attacks.
One-Hit KO: If True Form Gorgon gets to 60 red mana, she'll cast "Subjugation", a spell that causes you to instantly surrender and lose the battle, no matter how many HP either of you have left.
The Yeti has Crushing Kill, which deals 999 damage at 65 red. He's also the second Bonus Boss you can face. The Iron Giant has it as well, but doesn't have the Yeti's rapid red mana gain to go with it.
Our Dwarves Are Different: The Dark Dwarves were apparently a very intelligent race, based off what you're told when you enter an entire laboratory and library full of research and test-tube experiments that they created. They're still short and talk in the stereotypical fashion for dwarves though.
"Le's not was'e m'tyme!"
PVP Balanced: Supposedly. But say goodbye to weapons and armors with loads of different effects. Now it's mostly about which one gives more attack. (The secondary effects do return, but only after you've upgraded your item to at least Masterwork level, and even then, the effects are mostly passive stat buffs).
Or, when faced with an enemy with ridiculous DEF capabilities, whichever spells lower defense the most/longest.
Shout-Out: One of the quests is named IT'S A TRAP!