Marvel Puzzle Quest Review and Tips
Marvel Puzzle Quest Dark Reign Home Screen
Match-3 Marvel Style
Match-3 games are a dime-a-dozen ever since Candy Crush Saga dominated the casual gaming scene with cutesy sweet matching madness underlined with a questionable payment model and difficulty spikes. Whilst being more niche than the 'go to' match-3 game, it's more engrossing and actually keeps you coming back for more, whilst being fair. I've not needed to spend any money whatsoever and it's free to download.
For those who aren't aware of this genre, it's been around for decades. The most famous example is probably Bejeweled but similar mechanics of matching can be found in the godfather of them all that is Tetris. That's it for the history lesson folks.
Marvel Puzzle Quest Dark Reign is essentially a game where you have to match similar coloured tiles and anyone can pick this up easily and immediately see their actions having effects - great for kids who might get frustrated by complex controls. As long as you match a minimum of 3 similar tiles, you're good to go.
The main difference is that this game is set within the Marvel comic book universe and requires an online connection (3G, 4G or Wi-fi). No previous knowledge of Marvel or the characters is required to be good at this game.
Prologue and Events
The game is split between two tabs or areas - Prologue and Events. Prologue follows various originally created stories to do with specific characters and H.A.M.M.E.R. storyline. Events can be added at any time (normally weekly) with brand new stories, missions and tasks to earn rewards (more on these later). The combination of both means there is always content to sink your teeth into and you're never left bored. Prologue displays static content (always available) and Events displays timed content (available for a limited time).
Diving into either lets you follow various scenarios mapped out with missions that are unlocked as you play through them or fulfil certain conditions. In almost all of them you fight A.I. (computer controlled) opponents with a few scenarios where you can battle others online (entirely optional). By beating the A.I. controlled team you can win ISO-8 (in game currency), Hero Points (used to increase your character slots, enter special tournaments or upgrade your skills), health packs to heal your team or boosts to help you fight better. You fight them with your team of characters and this is where it becomes really interesting.
You start out with a basic team of 3 Marvel characters but can acquire new ones by playing the missions and earning covers. Covers tell you about the character, their powers and the level they can achieve. Each one of them is completely unique which makes for some great strategical teams.
More familiar characters like Iron Man, Storm and Wolverine are there, but joined by other more unfamiliar characters (to me anyway) like Black Panther, Daken and Moonstone. There are dozens to find with new ones being occasionally added to spice things up. Each character also has a star rating and the higher the rating, the rarer the character as well as the level you can upgrade them.
Characters are upgraded with ISO-8 and raising their level increases a characters health and the amount of damage they can do with their attacks. As they have their own preferred colours, linked to their special powers, it makes sense to pay attention to which one works best. Once you've matched a certain number of coloured tiles generating AP (action points), you can activate their individual power.
Powers have their own unique animations and can really help change the battle in your favour. From simply damaging one character on a team, the whole team, freezing them to halt actions or creating more tiles of one colour, there are lots of different powers which encourages experimentation. These can be trained by collecting Hero Points or collecting Covers.
Going into a little more detail, the grid is divided into 8 x 8 full of random tiles at the start of any given match. You always start first against the A.I. Before the match begins you pick your team of 3, any boosts you want to include and click 'Fight'. Bear in mind the internet connection aspect is only needed for starting the game up and fighting other players around the world. The minute you start a game, it will never be interrupted by loss of signal for whatever reason.
Boosts can be won as a reward or bought with ISO-8 or Hero Points. They can impact the amount of damage you do against certain characters, help give you extra starting tiles to boost when you can use your powers or make matching certain colours even more effective.
You take it in turns to attack each the opposing team until one of you is victorious by matching tiles. Matching 3 tiles continues the game as normal, 4 tiles destroys an entire line generating AP and 5 tiles in one go gives you an extra turn. Only until all team members are down can a winner be decided. Once the match is finished you receive a random reward. On the first time you complete a given mission you receive a bonus if you win straight away. Many missions can be completed additional times to receive additional rewards at random (usually up to a maximum of 4). You'll want to repeatedly attempt the same missions as not only is it fun, but you can get all rewards on offer with some patience. It will help you level up but never feels like grinding.
Hero Points are the rarest commodity in the game. They're important for a few reasons. You use them to increase the roster of characters you can have giving you a better choice of team to bring into battle. You can also use them to enter Elite tournaments (ideally for high level characters) as an alternative way to train powers. If you did end up spending money on the game, buying extra Hero Points is where you'd spend it. However, I found earning Hero Points very satisfying and never felt the need to buy them - the game is very fair in this respect.
So for those who are yet to try the game as well as for those who have played it a little or a lot, here are some tips I think are worth keeping in mind.
- Do not spend Hero Points on training powers. It costs far too much and they are much better spent on increasing the size of your roster.
- Don't rely too much on boosts. Winning them is fine but if you buy them using ISO-8 and keep relying on them, they go up in price until you start having to fork out Hero Points for them. Use them for tough battles when the reward is worth the boost.
- Make use of special events that are added. It's a good way to earn lots of ISO-8 to level up your team.
- Once you acquire her, Storm (2 star character, Classic) can be a real benefit to your team. Despite her relatively low HP (health) Lightning Storm is great to gain AP for your whole team, Windstorm can damage the whole team and has individual stun when powered up and Raging Tempest can keep you going toe to toe with much higher level characters as damages them as a reaction to their attacks over 20%. Used tactically she is a great character. Teamed with Daken and Iron Man... you've got a solid team.
- Always remember the team you're playing against. Take down the stronger character first and if you feel a big move is coming soon (Juggernaut and Thor spring to mind), match tiles that mean a character with high health takes the hit. Even if your characters have low health, it's better to have 3 available than be limited by one or two.
- Remember, there is no time limit to how long you can take to make a move so study the board carefully. If you can match 5 in a row or in a 'T' (3x3) shape of the same colour, you get an extra go.
- Matching the tiles near the bottom of the board gives you a better chance of randomly matching the falling tiles as they move down so keep this in mind.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed putting this together. It's become one of my favourite games and hope you all give it a try. Feel free to share your own tips, thoughts and comments below. As always, it's great to hear from others:-)
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Marvel Puzzle Quest: Dark Reign Trailer
© 2014 Olly