Bottom line: The puzzles themselves could be fun, but they're bogged down by a sloppy plot and horrible turn-based mechanics. This isn't a worthwhile purchase for most Switch gamers.
Beautiful 2D artwork
It's a fun concept
Ridiculously short time limit
Puzzles don't take full advantage of Switch screen
Actual puzzle mechanics are frustrating
Story mode is short and unrefined
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Several years back, I discovered Puzzle & Dragons on my smartphone. I found it to be a thoroughly addicting game that provided challenging-yet-satisfying puzzles along with some beautiful artwork for my eyes to devour. Seriously, I got really sucked into this game and spent hours playing it. A few years later a 3DS game called Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Smash Bros. Edition was released, and it also proved to be a fun game. And now, Puzzle & Dragons has come to Nintendo Switch.
These Puzzle & Dragons games are somewhat like Pokémon meets Tetris. The game has you line up orbs in order to attack opponents using the skillsets of various monsters on your team. Each orb has a different color and does something different. For instance, if you have a water-type creature on your team and you line up a bunch of water orbs, then you'll attack your opponent using your water creature. The idea is to line up the proper orbs in order to take advantage of your opponent's weaknesses and defeat them. As you play through the game, you unlock new creatures to battle with.
The Switch version of the game attempts to add more story by making it so you're battling rivals in an arena in order to win the Champion Cup. When I saw that Puzzle & Dragons GOLD was on the Nintendo Switch, I figured that I could enjoy the same fun puzzle experience from a different platform. After playing for a few hours, I've determined that the Switch version of this game isn't nearly as good as the others. In all honesty, I'd warn people to stay away from it. Here's my full review of Puzzle & Dragons GOLD.
Pretty monster designs
Puzzle & Dragons GOLD What I like
I was really disappointed with this game, especially given that I liked the smartphone and the 3DS version so well. Still, there were a few things I liked about the game.
The 2D artwork Monster designs
I've always loved looking at designs for mystical fantasy creatures. Since the point of the game is collecting various monsters and adding them to your team, you'll be seeing loads of creative creature designs. The 3D renditions are alright, but I really loved looking at the beautiful 2D artwork.
Some of the creatures aren't that original, but others are simply breathtaking. They were obviously designed by a phenomenal artist. More so than anything, I loved unlocking new monsters because it meant I'd get to view new artwork.
The base puzzle concept Fun and addictive
The idea behind the puzzles is really fun. As I mentioned before, I got seriously sucked into previous versions of the game. You slide your finger through the orbs which shifts their position and makes it so you can line them up with each other. Seeing the bright colors move around on the screen and watching the numbers bounce around as the game calculates the power of your attack is really satisfying.
Similar to Pokémon and other creature collection games, this one relies on type-based attacks. So for instance, a water-type creature is powerful against a fire-type creature, and so on. This makes it so you have to strategize and choose the proper monsters for your team if you want to take down your opponents.
This is a really fun concept that has worked really well in past versions of the game. However, the fun gameplay gets bogged down by ridiculous elements that, in my opinion, shouldn't be there. If it wasn't for these other mechanics, I would have really enjoyed the puzzle aspects of this game. Sigh. If only, if only.
Turn-based mechanics drag it down
Puzzle & Dragons GOLD What I don't like
I really thought I was going to like this game, however, it has too many shortcomings that suck the fun out of it. Here are the things I don't like about Puzzle & Dragons GOLD.
Actual puzzle mechanics Short time limit and clunky combat
Whenever it's your turn to use the puzzle to attack, a ridiculously short timer counts down, making it so you hardly have any time to evaluate the puzzle and then run your finger through the orbs. It really just makes the turn-based combat feel stressful and hectic. If it just allowed you to think through your strategy a little longer this game would be a lot more fun.
If that wasn't enough, instead of taking up the full screen the puzzle gets reduced to a small box. That means you don't have a lot of room for variation when swiping through the various orbs. It just feels like the game isn't taking advantage of the Switch's screen.
Unrefined story mode Feels like it was thrown in last minute
The main storyline has you choose betwen playing as one of two kids who participate in the Champion Cup. The artwork for these characters and their rivals doesn't compare to the rest of the game and the story itself is pretty sloppy. It really just feels like the story mode was hastily thrown into the mix without being thought through.
If you do tough it out and get past the bad game mechanics, you'll discover that the story mode ends far too quickly. Even if you zoom through each of the playable characters' stories, the game doesn't feel long enough. For this reason, I honestly don't think the game is worth the $15 it sells for.
Puzzle & Dragons GOLD Bottom Line
I'm really sad that I didn't end up enjoying this game, but it just doesn't live up to previous versions. The story mode feels like it was thrown in as an afterthought and the fun puzzles are bogged down by unpleasant mechanics. It really makes it stressful to play.
Even if you make your way through the story mode, you'll quickly discover that it's really short and doesn't offer that many hours of playtime. The biggest redeeming thing is that the monster designs are fantastic. Every time you unlock a new member for your team, you'll be able to view a gorgeous 2D image.
Line up orbs in order to get your team of monsters to attack your opponents. You'll face off against various rivals as you compete to win the Champion Cup.
Gaming aficionado Rebecca Spear is iMore's dedicated gaming editor with a focus on Nintendo Switch and iOS gaming. You’ll never catch her without her Switch or her iPad Air handy. If you’ve got a question about Pokémon, The Legend of Zelda, or just about any other Nintendo series check out her guides to help you out. Rebecca has written thousands of articles in the last six years including hundreds of extensive gaming guides, previews, and reviews for both Switch and Apple Arcade. She also loves checking out new gaming accessories like iPhone controllers and has her ear to the ground when it comes to covering the next big trend.