Playing games on mobile is something I love the idea of, but rarely does it live up to my hopes.
I’ve bought full games in the past, GTA III, Chrono Trigger, Knights of the old Republic, but between massive downloads, battery woes and awful on-screen controllers, it just doesn’t work for me as an alternative means of “hardcore” gaming.
I do, however like to have something to help keep my mind busy, or to while away time sat in a waiting room, or something similar. Angry Birds was the first game that kind of fit the bill for me here (no pun intended). Easy to pick up, fun to play and dipping in and out of it when I wanted wasn’t a problem.
Since then I’ve tried countless games and stuck with a few for a little while (Boom Beach being the longest one), but I always find myself a little bored after a while.
Luckily, I’ve found something that’s filling this specific void, for the time being at least. Marvel Puzzle Quest.
Marvel Puzzle Quest
At first glance Marvel Puzzle Quest is just another match-3 gems, style of game. I suppose it is really, but there’s added depth through the use of Marvel heroes and villains, and honestly, it’s a really nice twist on a classic formula.
You have a team of 3 Marvel characters, and you use them to “fight” the opposition. Fighting consists of matching the same shape/colour tiles on the board in groups of 3 or more. The twist being that each character can attack, depending on which tiles have their icon on them, and you can easily switch between them throughout the bout, by simply lining up different tiles.
Better yet, each tile matched, is collected towards building up special attacks. This, to me is where the real depth comes in. Each character has unique abilities, some giving quite a high attack, laying down shield tiles to dampen enemy attacks, stealing tiles from the enemy etc. Choosing which attack to use, and when to have the greatest impact is key.
I use Mockingbird quite a lot, and I’ve only got one of her abilities, which is a countdown timer to a massive high-damage explosion. The thing is, there are two countdown tiles that need to essential be protected, for the move to pay off. Two tiles that could be matched as a part of the enemy attack…….suddenly you try and play super defensive for 2 or three moves, just so you can do some high-damage.
There are so many instances of having to be tactical, and thinking about which move you should make, there’s a genuine depth here to elevate it from just “Bejeweled clone with a Marvel licence”.
The game is made up of so many characters from the Marvel Universe, it’s bloody wonderful. Sure, there’s all of your big name talent there (to be fair, the cinematic adventures of these heroes have create a lot of high-profile characters as it is!), but then there’s Gwenpool or Squirrel Girl etc. On top of the range of characters, there are multiple versions of some, so you could have a team made up of 3 different Captain America’s, should you choose.
I love how each character has their own unique comic book cover, and to improve your roster, you need more covers, that help level up abilities, and raise their level.
This is where the free-to-play element kicks in for Marvel Puzzle Quest……
You win/unlock covers, all the time, and you get some really cool heroes and villains to play with. Alas, you can’t just use them. You only have so many slots within which you can put them in. So, you need to buy additional slots with “hero points”.
You earn enough hero points to start with to unlock a few more slots, and you carry on. But you need to be deciding which heroes are worth the slot, and you can’t guarantee what covers you’re going to unlock with each token you earn. So, do you put that really rare, high-level hero in a slot, and hope that you drop another super rare cover soon? Or do you put in something more common, that maybe isn’t as cool or high-levelled?
It’s clever and it means that sometimes you just have to pass up that super-rare character. Or you spend real money on more hero points, to unlock more spaces. To be fair, it isn’t mandatory to keep playing, and I’ve felt that sinking feeling of guilt after knowing I’ve lost a cover that would have been really cool, but it doesn’t ruin the game.
Admittedly, I’ve spent a couple of quid here and there, and pumped those hero points in, to get that cool hero (I NEEDED Daredevil and Deadpool, ok?!), but I’ve let plenty go, too.
I don’t mind a small contribution, at my own discretion on occasion, the game is constantly rewarding you (yes, I know, that’s how they get you to buy more slots), and I’m having fun for a few minutes every day, so it’s no harm. Although I totally see how people could get carried away!
The game itself isn’t just about matching tiles and collecting covers. If that was it, it wouldn’t be particularly exciting…..
Nope, it goes one better and adds stories and missions. I really like this element, you always feel like you have a purpose and there’s on-screen dialogue, in the style of comic book panels. Suddenly, you feel like you’re actively engaging in a battle, and that extra context really helps keep it alive.
Better still, each of the “story” missions sees you get rankings against the rest of the world, and the higher your ranking, the better the rewards. Each story is an event, and each event has rewards. You’re always engaged and always competing against the world.
Marvel Puzzle Quest doesn’t want you to go it alone, either. There are “alliances” whereby you join a group of other players and can chat, but more importantly, send your characters to them as support.
It’s a nice touch, and I always respond with my covers for them. I’ve never not received some when I’ve made a request, either, so everyone is looking out for each other.
I’m currently at 75 consecutive days of play (you get a reward for a win, every day and it logs it), and honestly, I don’t see that changing any time soon. It’s accessible, it can be challenging at times, and you feel like your tactics have made all the difference.
There’s the elements there to make it an addictive, and potentially expensive game, but nothing is forced, and you don’t have to buy anything if you don’t want. You don’t miss out on the core gameplay or the stories (although some missions do require specific heroes on occasion, it isn’t really an issue).
Marvel Puzzle Quest is great fun to dip in and out of during a quiet few minutes, every day and it keeps me engaged whilst having fun. What more can I ask of a mobile game? It doesn’t hammer my battery, either, which is a massive bonus!
Ninja Refinery definitely recommends Marvel Puzzle Quest, to anyone looking for something to help pass a few minutes here and there.
D3 Go! have done a great job here, and long may they continue.