PAX'08 Impression

Puzzle Quest: Galactrix


Anna Marie Neufeld

Nice combo

Is it time to blast off in the future again? Well, only if it involves some puzzle RPG action. Oh, fine, fine, prepare for take off. Don't get fooled however -- playing the first game won't give players a giant advantage, it'll just nudge them in the right direction, so newcomers to the budding series should take note of this excellent genre-mixing title as well.

The demo shown only had one level, but it was enough to get the idea by. Each side had a shield in addition to its life points; shields needed to be knocked down before either side could be directly attacked. Blue is no longer an energy source and instead refills shields when it is matched up. Red, Yellow, and Green are still used as energy for attacks and effects, and my player had a variety of nice ones: reducing enemy shields down to zero, exploding a random section on the board, and removing all bombs for a refund of red energy. There were also Purple and White to match up, which slowly increased a counter underneath each side's portal as they were gathered. Unfortunately, their use has not been fully established yet. Using the ability to bring down the enemy shields, I was then able to slowly chip away at the opponent's health.

The Menu

Skulls have been replaced with futuristic mines, which have a countdown on them; manage to match them up early, and they do additional damage. Mines can start with a countdown as high as ten, but most come in around five or so. The grid is now a hexagon, which adds a new depth to the game; however, with the new grid it's significantly easier to gain a four combo. Thus, a change from the last game was needed, and now only combos of five will grant an extra turn. In addition to the new dimensions, gravity no longer correctly applies -- the game is set in space. New pieces will move in from the same direction the piece creating the move came from. That sounds very confusing, but once seen in action it makes perfect sense. For example, if a piece were moved in a northeastern direction, the pieces will come from the bottom left corner, moving towards the upper right.

What I played was good, but more details would have been helpful. There's still a significant amount of game that wasn't touched, including the story, so my enjoyment of the demo was limited by how little I could do.

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