Puzzle and Dragons (or Pazudora as it is affectionately known) is a huge phenomenon in Japan on smartphones and the like. It is now being released on the 3DS and a very substantial playable demo is available on the Japanese eShop.
It costs ¥4,000 which actually is likely to work out considerably cheaper than the “free” phone version, which charges for in-game stamina and apparently soon adds up to pretty expensive. The game has been an enormous financial success.
I have been playing the 3DS demo of Puzzle and Dragons and I am very impressed.
At first sight it is somewhat akin to the excellent Puzzle Quest, in that it is an RPG in which combat takes the form of a Bejewelled-style game played on the lower touch-screen, in which different colored gems represent different elemental powers.
However, Puzzle and Dragons is a much more graphically-oriented game with lots of character interaction. The “dungeons” (actually often open air settings, though they are called “dungeons”) are graphically lovely with wonderful scenic depth fully utilizing the machine’s 3D.
It is also a lot cuter. While the storyline is quite serious, focussing on an evil force invading the world, it isn’t long into the story before a “rabbit” drops out of the sky. The “rabbit” is actually a dragon (but as cute as a rabbit) who plays an important part in the story, a little reminiscent of Precure’s fairies. In general enemies are cute, characters are cute, and despite a serious storyline you can’t go far without encountering something cute.
Now, since you will only be downloading this if you have a Japanese 3DS you may be wondering what the language level is like.
All the kanji have furigana, so you can easily look up unknown words. The dialog is reasonably simple and I find it a lot easier to follow than Pokemon, largely because in Pokemon a lot of interaction is with NPCs who say random and often quite odd things, whereas in Puzzle and Dragons the dialog is mostly furthering the storyline, the characters say things you might expect them to say, and generally it is much easier to follow.
Definitely download the demo if you have a Japanese 3DS. This is a graphical treat with fun characters, an engaging storyline, excellent gameplay, and good, understandable Japanese practice.
If you enjoy the lengthy demo, you may well want to buy the full game. You will be paying to own it outright rather than being nickel-and-dimed in perpetuity, and the gorgeous 3D alone makes it worthwhile to have this version.
And it’s an excellent chance to find out why Puzzle and Dragons is such a huge phenomenon in Japan.