A few weeks ago I found myself uninspired by my existing games library and decided I needed a new fix. I wanted something casual so my attention focused on the PSP and DS -- the platforms I generally look to for shorter game sessions.
I remembered reading the above linked Penny-Arcade comic for a game called Puzzle Quest and being intrigued. It sounded like Magic The Gathering married with Bejeweled -- not the two games and genres I would most expect to combine well. I was happy to see that not only is the game available on both the PSP and the DS but that a relatively rich PC demo version is available for download. I grabbed it and was quickly hooked -- one afternoon quickly shot.
Puzzle Quest is, as far as I am concerned, the 'Killer App' for the PSP. I have been playing, literally, all day. I woke up, started playing, ate, played, and will likely be up to the wee hours of the morning -- it is that addictive.
The core game mechanic could not be simpler. Match gems in groups of three, four or five ala Bejeweled. The hook, though, is that the different colored gems correspond to different types of Mana which in turn is used to cast spells. It is uncovering the powerful spell 'stacks' that makes this game so meaty. Any RPG fan will find plenty of tweaking opprotunities as they fine-tune their spell arsenal inbetween battles.
Puzzle Quest is soon to launch on Xbox Live Arcade where I'm sure the multiplayer component (which I haven't tried yet so I can't comment on) will help make this a top Live title. I know I'll be purchasing it.
Do yourself a favor -- check out the PC demo and see if you can resist the siren call of this excellent title. 'Casual' accesibility and mechanics combined with 'hardcore' story and depth. Truly a special game.