Over the last spectacular half-decade, we’ve brought you reviews of all the top iPhone and iPad games as they launch. But over time, it’s easy to forget some of the landmark games that defined the platform for millions of gamers. For the next few months, we’ll be featuring a different iOS game series each weekday, reminding you of iOS gaming’s glorious past and rapidly-evolving future. Our first classic series is Puzzle Quest.
Puzzle Quest: Chapter 1 and 2
When it first launched on the App Store in December 2008 for $9.99, the original Puzzle Quest seemed like the perfect mobile game. It combined the accessible and hypnotic match-3 gameplay of Bejeweled with the deeper storylines and stat-management of our favorite RPGs.
However, TransGaming’s first attempt at a Puzzle Quest iOS port fell far short of our expectations. Imprecise controls, blurry graphics, long load times, and a high price point were all reasons we gave the game a 1 out of 4 at launch. But over the next few months, TransGaming released several patches and additional content updates, which made Puzzle Quest the first (and so far, only) game to rise from a 1 to a 4 in our rankings. The original Puzzle Quest is no longer available on iOS, but if you missed it, you’ll still have a great time with the Namco-published sequel, Puzzle Quest 2.
Key quote: “Sadly, Puzzle Quest: Chapter 1 looks like a classic case of ambition beating out common sense. Someone up the business chain probably ordered the developer to fit the entire feature list onto the iPhone, while also reusing all the old graphical assets.”
Puzzle Quest 2
Puzzle Quest 2 was everything we could have hoped for in a sequel. With a new publisher, none of the first Puzzle Quest’s flaws made it into the second game, leaving us with a polished gem of match-3 perfection. The quests became more epic, and the monsters fiercer and more varied. The game’s new spells and abilities allowed for different play styles– you could hack and slash your way through foes using a barbarian’s brute force, or cleverly set up chains of attacks using an assassin’s poisoned blades.
Puzzle Quest 2 launched in late 2010, the same year as the iPad, and it took full advantage of the device’s larger screen for gaming. The level of detail, from dank dungeons to the bit of drool hanging from an orc’s lower jaw, helped immerse players in the unfolding action. In 2011, Retina support and online multiplayer were added, making Puzzle Quest 2 an essential addition to any serious gamer’s collection.
Key quote: “Puzzle Quest 2 is the best Match-3 game on the platform, bar none. It’s a full console game with graphics, sound design, and deep gameplay to match. You’ll be amazed at how long this journey lasts, as tempting side-quests and passageways lure you to several more hours’ of enjoyment.”
Tomorrow, we look at another genre-defining early series for iOS: The tower defense mega-hit, Fieldrunners.