Puzzle & Dragons or PAD is a match-three/RPG mobile game by GungHo Online Entertainment. What makes it interesting and stand out of crowd, is the uncommon take for the genre. It blends successfully together different game mechanics of puzzling, collecting, and team building.
Like in many other same genre games, your playfield is a board of different kinds of tiles and in this case, orbs and your job is to match different kinds of colors or shapes. A common mechanic in match-three games is, that you can swap only the positions of two tiles or orbs, but in this game you ”pick up” an orb with your finger and drag it all around the playfield within a given time limit. This opens up ways to match the orbs in various different ways and make huge combos. This is only one part of the game though and here it gets more complicated. To get to the puzzling part you need to assemble a team of five heroes, each with their skillset. Every hero has also a leader skill that defines your playstyle: for example, you might need to match rows of certain colors to activate your leader skills, which means getting the maximum damage output and survival bonuses. Or you might need to make seven combos or match orbs in cross formations. Heroes represent four different colors, which match the orbs in the playfield, and activating the same color orb as a hero in your team also actives heroes’ attack.
So, we have match-three and team-building mechanics but wait – there’s more! PAD is also a gacha game, collaborating with famous animes and IPs like Disney and Marvel. Gacha games usually involve some sort of gambling or loot box mechanic. In this case, the game currency is used to gain random new hero units. During collaborations, the units are from certain sources like the given examples, Marvel and Disney. This is also how the game makes it revenue: players using money to get more game currency to get more rolls from the gacha machine to increase the chances to get what you wish. Good thing is, it’s easy to skip all in-app purchases since nothing is gated behind paywalls and it’s impossible to succeed with only a bottomless money purse since skill is also needed for puzzling.
Puzzle & Dragons is about to turn 10 years in next February. Considering the age of the game, a relevant question might be is it worth picking or will you always be the underdog comparing people who started years ago? The good news is most of the content is you versus AI with very few competitive elements. Basic game mechanics are easy to learn but hard to master. Matching orbs is self-explanatory but there’s also much that’s not so well explained, meaning player might need to do some research from different sources like Reddit and YouTube. Unfortunately, there’s no EU client for the game anymore, so iOS users need to make North American Apple ID to download the game. For Android users, it’s easier since the game file can be downloaded from different sources.
Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment
Developer: GungHo Online Entertainment
Platforms: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Release Date: 2012
Genres: Puzzle, match-three, role-playing
Age Rating: 4+ (iOS)
Pictures: Screenshots from the game, taken by the author
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