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Puzzle Quest - or how I just blew away a perfectly good weekend and loved it
Written by Tommi on 07.07.2008 09:18:55
MAJOR GEEK ALERT!!!
I don't know how many of y'all out there are video game enthusiasts. Probably you all still know the experience of getting totally addicted to something really quick. Be it punk rock, crack cocaine or a really really good game. I'm not a hardcore gaming enthusiast, though. I do subscribe to the biggest Finnish gaming monthly (mostly for their subscribers only online forum), but I haven't really bought a new game in a long time and since my computer is mostly dedicated to music stuff, I don't really want any games messing up my system, so my main gaming platforms are as cool and current as Nintendo GameCube, Playstation 2 and Nokia E51. So it's totally safe to say that the last time I've had an addictive gaming experience with a current game has been a while ago. Unless Donkey Konga counts.
This was a really rare one for me: no gigs anywhere, girlfriend out of town, nothing really interesting going on anywhere and nothing super-urgent to do, so I decided to do myself a favor by not booking any activity whatsoever for the weekend. Just to see what happens. Those who know me know that the last time I've really had such a weekend was probably in the 90's.
So I decided to buy a game. After checking out the slim selection of games available for purchase online via download, I remembered a game that everyone had been raving about a while ago that was only available to purchase online: Puzzle Quest.
Puzzle Quest is a weird beast. It's a blend between a turn-based strategy / role playing game (like the Heroes Of Might and Magic -series or Warlords) and... Bejeweled! Yeah, you read it just right. Bejeweled, the insanely addictive online Java-game that's losing probably billions in work time to employers worldwide and is keeping me entertained on the road since I have it on my Nokia.
At first I thought that it just couldn't work. It felt like a forced combination, kind of like every time someone tries to embed a cellphone ringtone into a music track and it ends up sounding mundane, unattractive and tacked on. However, it was far from it. The succesful marriage of two very familiar things that have no apparent common surface is executed here so perfectly, it almost makes me want to cry! It's like the ugly dude from highschool you find out ending up with the really hot chick and every time you see them you mentally wink at the guy, give him two thumbs up and mouth the word "SCORE!"
I realised that the developers and designers of Puzzle Quest had done something right when I realized at about 11pm Saturday night that I was still playing the game in the same underwear (picture omitted, sorry girls) I had bought it in over 24 hours ago. Sure, I had slept for a while in between (I told you I wasn't a hardcore gamer), but other than the few hours of sleep, I hadn't really done anything. Including eating, apart from this tiny yoghurt-type thingy for breakfast.
I then shrugged, had a bite to eat and proceeded to play until Sunday evening. Since I'm not hardcore I also slept a bit at some point.
So I guess I clocked in a good 20+ hours of game time during the weekend. I know I have plenty of friends that just call that a normal weekend, but I have to reiterate: This is not very common for me. I'm not even bummed-out that I spend two whole days on something with absolutely nothing to show for it.
So what's so good about the game? Nothing really. It's dead simple: develop your character from a squeamish apprentice to a feared warrior, build your kingdom, ride hither and thither and squash a few orc skulls while you're at it... by combing stuff in a Bejeweled-clone. It's in many respects an exact copy of stuff like Heroes of Might & Magic, but therein lies the hook: it's a proven thing that simple, but challenging puzzles like Bejeweled are able to thoroughly hook people, so by adding the extra layer of story and development to it just makes the addiction worse, because you're not combining the gems to beat a highscore (which is plenty of objective in itself, I can tell you!), you're fighting for your hero and your kingdom! That's innovative design if I've ever seen some.
However the story sucks really bad. It's just the worst case of fantasy realm hubbub. It's so stock that a 5-year old could've written. Actually, a 5-year old probably did. I won't go into it any more as it sucks so bad. Luckily you can skip all the story like parts and go back to the cool part - combining coins, diamonds and skulls - in a click or two.
Oh wow, I didn't even mean to go into this much detail. Just wanted to share a really entertaining experience. A really good part of the really really good experience was the purchase. The game was only 20 bucks (which seems to have translated into less than 13 euros on my card statement), which is pretty much a total steal and buying the game was a breeze! I just went to the site the Puzzle Quest website told me to go to "BUY NOW" and click-click-type-type-click-click, it was ON, son! Orc brains for breakfast!
I had a similar experience a few weeks ago as we were checking out the online shop that Nintendo Wii has and did a quick purchase of Super Mario Bros. and Bubble Bobble (which we totally destroyed as a tag team with my girlfriend!) for 10 euros COMBINED. The entire process was easier than going to the toilet, as the latter involves a lot more buttons to work. My trousers have 4 or five, on Wii, you only need the crosshair and 2 buttons for this. I don't know about you guys, but I'm doing all my games shopping online for now! I've got all my purchases so far lined up on my shelf here by my computer and even if most of the games are bought in this century, they're still mostly stuff that will never be played again. If I had just had online bought copies of them all, they wouldn't be taking physical space, just a tiny corner of my big-ass drives. Did I mention my drives are BIG already?
That's more nerdiness I guess anybody can handle on one go, so I'll conclude with a known fact that's as far from nerdy as the George Clinton is from this earth - BLUE ÖYSTER CULT ROCKS, DUDE!
Here's a few records we think you'd really enjoy (because we do)!