RPGamer Feature - Puzzle Quest 2 Interview
Puzzle Quest 2
Developer: Infinite Interactive
Publisher: D3Publisher
Release Date:

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If there is anyone out there at this point who hasn't played the original Puzzle Quest by now, you must have been living under a rock. Like it or not, it is an addictive blend of RPG and puzzle mechanics. It's a couple years old now and lot of other games have tried to copy the formula, but it's not been the same. Now the original developers are back with a new take on the same game with Puzzle Quest 2. Will this title share the same success of the original? It's too early to tell that, but we do have some more details about the game as we talked with executive producer Tim Ramage from D3Publisher. Here's what he had to say.

Greetings! RPGamer would like to thank you for taking the time to talk with us about Puzzle Quest 2. As you might know, the original Puzzle Quest won an award for being RPGamer's Most Addictive RPG in 2007. From how much time some of us have spent playing just the Mage Trainer on Facebook, it looks like Puzzle Quest 2 might be heading down the right path. Could you start off by sharing a little about how Puzzle Quest 2 came into existence?
Tim Ramage, Executive Producer D3P: As with all successful games, a sequel was a natural choice when the response to the first game turned out to be significant. However, we released various versions of Puzzle Quest over the space of a year, so rolling right into PQ2 didn’t make sense. In its stead, Infinite Interactive created a spin-off that would allow them to explore a different story genre as well as create a new twist to the match 3 puzzle mechanic. As soon as Galactrix shipped, the team then began their work on Puzzle Quest 2.

Since Puzzle Quest launched with such a critical success, Infinite Interactive has been all over the place with more puzzle games. What is it about the Puzzle Quest formula that has worked so well?
TR: I think Steve Fawkner found that magical combination of peanut butter and chocolate when he created Puzzle Quest. This wasn't an accident; it was a willingness to think outside the box. He already had a pedigree when it came to creating compelling RPG content…but when he devised a match 3 puzzle game mechanic to go along with an already solid RPG foundation, he managed to reach out to new audience as well. The puzzle game is just as compelling from a casual games standpoint as the RPG is from a core games standpoint. That seems to be the formula: being willing to combine two seemingly disparate game genres coming together to form a new game genre.

As much fun as it's been to play as a Mage on Facebook, could you share a little about the game's other classes? Do players have any choice in terms of customizing their character and class?
TR: In Puzzle Quest 2 the player gets to choose from one of four iconic fantasy hero characters: Barbarian, Sorcerer, Templar and Assassin. Each character has unique abilities that have a direct correlation to the strategy used on the puzzle board. So, for example, the Barbarian, an all-around type of character, will have pretty effective weapons and shields along with spells that are more based in offensive and defensive maneuvers. The Sorcerer, on the other hand, may have a different set of weapons that may not be as strong as the Barbarian's, but more than makes up for it with spells that manipulate the board in his/her favor.

Customization comes in the form of equipping weapons, shields, spells and potions, along with choosing the attributes you want to focus on.

Until 2007, a puzzle RPG seemed like a crazy concept, but now we're seeing them everywhere. Other than character development, what are some of the other RPG characteristics of Puzzle Quest 2?
TR: Puzzle Quest 2 is a dungeon crawler this time around... Diablo meets Puzzle Quest (not my term, but Steve Fawkner's term). As such the focus is on battling enemies, collecting items and weapons and leveling up your character. We also feature a weapon upgrade system driven by the items you collect after each battle.

One fun feature from the original Puzzle Quest was companions. How have they made a return this time around?
TR: With the move to a dungeon crawler experience, we've streamlined a lot of the things that were in the first Puzzle Quest, including companions. Though they don't play as big of a role this time around, you can acquire a companion during the game which will give you access to another set of spells.

How else will this game differ from PQ1? I know there are only so many different ways to fight puzzle battles.
TR: With Puzzle Quest 2, we still remain true to the core elements of Puzzle Quest, namely RPG and Match 3 puzzle battles. However, with the dungeon crawler experience, the narrative takes place in a first person perspective. The art and world perspective have been changed…a painterly style with rich graphics creating a more intimate exploration of the world as the player's perspective is now a three-quarter top down view with both 2D and 3D elements.

From the battle perspective, we've added the ability for the player to equip his/her character with weapons and shields for a new strategic element on the puzzle battle board. Now players can attack directly with a slew of different weapons, as well as match skulls and utilize spells. We've also taken the XP and Gold gems off the board…you are awarded XP and gold after a battle. In their place we've added a fifth manna pool (the Purple gem) and a gauntlet gem, which when matched gives Action Points to be used in activating your weapons and shields.

We also feature 6 different mini-games tied to actions such as bashing a door, disarming a trap, searching an empty room for hidden enemies and rewards, picking locks and acquiring spells. These can all be played outside of the Quest Mode on their own as well.

Speaking of Quest Mode, not only is there an epic main quest to play, but characters you interact with will also give you a number of side quests to complete. And if that's not enough, there are Challenge Quests throughout the game that feature puzzle board battles with unique rules. On the XBLA version, some of these Challenge Quests are tied to leader boards so you can compare your performance to that of your friends.

Could you explain all of the different mode of play offered in Puzzle Quest 2? We're especially curious how multiplayer will work on the DS.
TR: Puzzle Quest 2 Single Player has an epic Quest Mode, a Quick Battle, and Mini-games-only mode. Multiplayer features Head-to-Head and, on XBLA, a Tournament mode where each player picks a roster of four enemy characters to fight with and last one standing wins.

The DS will offer the same epic experience as the XBLA version, with a local Wi-Fi multiplayer mode that features head-to-head game play.

Why the decision to start with releases on XBLA and DS? The original Puzzle Quest eventually hit nearly every system on the market, so is it just a matter of time? Any systems completely out of the running for a Puzzle Quest 2 release?
TR: XBLA and DS have proven to be our most popular platforms. In addition, our publishing partner, Namco Networks is releasing PC, iPhone, iPad and Mobile versions. Other platforms are to be determined.

RPGamer would like to thank D3Publisher for answering our puzzling questions about Puzzle Quest 2. This game will launch on June 22, 2010 for XBLA and Nintendo DS followed by likely every other system on the planet much like the original... though that's completely unofficial. In the meantime, you can get a feel for the game's mechanics on Facebook with the Puzzle Quest 2 Mage Trainer app.

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