Match three games remind me a little of Tetris. Easy enough to pick up and play, but given that they are technically puzzle games I can deceive myself into believing that I am brainy for completing them. Over the past few years match three titles have risen in prominence (you can’t search the iTunes App Store without stepping on one) so developers have had to be extra creative to stand out from the crowd. HuniePop for example combined match three gameplay with smooching attractive women, whilst WayForward Technologies have opted to combine block-matching with skin tight spandex clad ladies… um I mean superheroes.
At first glance Marvel Puzzle Quest doesn’t look all that different from something like Bejeweled. The aim of the game is to swap the position of two adjacent tiles to create a chain of three or more similarly coloured blocks. Instead of earning points however, matching tiles in Marvel Puzzle Quest causes your three-man superhero team to attack the opposing side’s villains. Once sufficient tiles have been removed it is possible to activate special powers, to sway the course of battle in your favour. Spending eleven red tiles for example will cause Captain America to hurl his shield at foes, whilst using up five blue blocks will order Spider-Man to tie up enemies in webbing faster than Christian Grey ties up virgins in poorly written novels.
The single player campaign follows the Marvel comics Dark Reign storyline, which saw Spider-Man baddie Norman Osborn assume control of SHIELD. For a brief period of time the change in management resulted in prominent Avengers getting substituted with villains (Bullseye became Hawkeye, Venom replaced Spider-Man etc.) Sounds like a cool tale, although I must confess that after a while I started to skip the cut scenes because the dialogue was rather weak. During one exchange someone utters the line “cool story bro” for heaven’s sake! In a way it’s just as well that I didn’t become too invested in the narrative because much to my dismay the final level ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.
My rating for Marvel Puzzle Quest is three and a half stars. If you are a comic book geek who enjoys match three puzzlers downloading this game is a bit of a no brainer. It’s the type of game that is fun to play when you have fifteen minutes to kill or if you want to keep your hands occupied whilst listening to a podcast/radio station. The single player levels get repetitive after a while though, so I wouldn’t recommend Marvel Puzzle Quest for gaming sessions that span across several hours. Aside from the story mode, online multiplayer is also available – although be aware that the game came out over a year ago so finding human opponents may be tricky. The mobile version of Marvel Puzzle Quest is supposedly more active, but I prefer playing on console thanks to the bigger screen and micro-transaction free environment.
One gripe I have with the game would have to be the lopsided difficulty. Early on I found Marvel Puzzle Quest to be rather challenging, but the later stages were a doddle as my team became overpowered (due to the fact that successfully completing a level increases the strength of your characters.) This bizarrely means that defeating the Hulk in the later missions is easier than vanquishing Tommy gun totting goons in the tutorial. Another grievance I have with the game would have to be with the roster of playable characters. There is a huge line-up of heroes to choose from, but for some reason the selection screen is peppered with repeats. Did we really need Black Widow in a grey cat suit, Black Widow in a leather one piece and Black Widow in fishnets? Those slots could have been utilized to include more unique Marvel characters. The omission of Squirrel Girl from the game in particular drives me nuts (pun intended.)