The chronicles are puzzling on the XBLA!
The plain of shattered skulls, home to the nine tribes, was a very harsh and desolate place. As this day dawned over a small village, a young warrior who I named â€˜Bobâ€™ of the Kâ€™ogari tribe has just come of age. He was about to learn how to fight. It was something that would serve him well in the days to come. Players start out on the Warriorâ€™s hut. Here you learn the basics of the battle game, how to move and destroy gems as well as how to damage your opponent.
The gameplay screen shows you a squared grid with a bar in the middle. The aim of the game is to push the centre bar towards your opponent so they run out of room on the board. The gems, that fall from the players side of the board, drop in groups of three. You have to move them into place and You can also rotate the gems using the Y button. Players can quickly drop gems by pressing the A button. There are also battle gems to be played with which, when touching gems of a matching colour, destroy the gems and keep the board clear for you. There are also a selection of different coloured skulls, which are the all important rage gems. Each one you destroy adds to your rage and When you have 5 points of rage, you will attack your opponent and push the center bar towards them. Extra rage can be obtained and can be carried over to your next attack. Defeating each enemy allows you to gain experience and gold. Players will gain experience for their strength, honour, agility and wisdom. Gold can be used to purchase various helpful items fro the store.
Inside the Hunterâ€™s Hut you are lent a warbeast companion for a single battle. A warbeast companion allows you to make special attacks. Destroy red gems to charge up this red attack, then later on you can learn different coloured attacks. Charging attacks need 20 points of the relevant colour. Once charged you can then attack with this special move and all power will drain from this icon and you will need to charge it again to use it.
In the Chieftainâ€™s Hut you will be lent an item and that will teach you how to make power gems in combat. Once you have your weapon equipped, it will allow regular red gems to be merged into red power gems by forming a 2 x 2 block of four red gems. Rage gems give you rage, and regular gems give you power. Once you have created your very first power gem, you can then destroy it with a battle gem to activate your sword. All items have different effects and youâ€™ll find many of them on your travels. Itâ€™s down to you to decide which ones to use. There are a wide selection of shields, charms and rings that all have different coloured power gems.
Inside the Shamanâ€™s Hut, the game tells you about many strange things including special rare gems that occasionally fall into play and these are wildcard gems that match with any colour. You can use wildcard gems to merge into power gems. Multiplier gems increase the power you gain for warbeast attacks. As you gain levels within the game, multiplier gems can become more powerful. Multiplier gems stack their bonuses. If you destroy two at once, you can gain 4 x bonus, but if you merge them into a power gem, their bonus is lost.
There are various different difficulty levels to choose from. Casual and Medium allow you to gain 10% gold from battles. Hard dificulty increases the gold from battles to 20% and deathbringer difficulty offers a massive 50% gold from battles.
Since the success of Puzzle Quest, many of these puzzle/hybrid games have turned up across all of the platforms. Whilst none have been as good as the original, they have all tried to offer their own twist on the game. In Puzzle Chronicles, the twist is offered by mixing up the gem matching gameplay. This change to the format has made the game more complicated to grasp and more difficult to play, lacking the fluidity of the original.
The game also seems to lack the polished finish that can be found in Puzzle Quest. The combat animations that display at the top of the screen lack a certain amount of style and look slightly childish.
Puzzle Chronicles certainly does not match up to the game that inspired it. It simply does not flow as easily as one would hope. However, it is not fair to constantly compare this game to another. Standing on it’s own, Puzzle Chronicles is a good game, offering a degree of challenge to the player. It can be difficult to learn the intricacies of the game, but once achieved, there is a fair amount of fun to be had here.
Puzzle Chronicles has it’s problems and is certainly not the best example of the puzzle/rpg hybrid genre. But that does not stop it from being entertaining and challenging.