Assembling patterns is an unrequited love; you are no richer for being a Zen master of matching colours or shapes. Gosh is it ever satisfying to play with these things though.
There is no beating around the bush, Puzzle & Dragons is —at its core— a slightly more involved match-three game. Here, the biggest change to the formula is that a single puzzle piece can be moved freely around the grid —bumping each other piece it touches behind it— until a short timer runs out. It doesn’t have that magic one-handed simplicity of something like Threes!, but as far as addictive distractions go it’s among the best of recent years.
This first 3ds outing is made up of two different titles, Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition. The Mario version gets you in and out of games quickly while Z drops you into a hub town that’s eerily similar to a Pokemon village. Each game is chalked full of RPG tropes in an earnest attempt to keep a very simplistic gameplay loop from getting stale. But let’s face it, if this whole genre isn’t routine something you engage with it is going to last you as long as any other match-three game.
Here’s the rub, Puzzle & Dragons is awesome — I’m loving it. If you think you could be in the mood for a full-fledged game from this genre with a Nintendo fit and finish, play this one. I’m already excited for you because it’s so much fun. But any day now I’m going to completely forget Puzzle & Dragons exists, and when another sequel inevitably gets rolled out for 3ds or beyond, I’m probably going to call it old-hat and roll my eyes at its existence. Even the very best —historic— examples of these games, like Solitaire or honest to god cardboard puzzle sets, aren’t enriching experiences, they’re pastimes and diversions. They are purely sources of abnegation. So what are you waiting for!? Go match some brightly coloured circles together. Quick!