Hybrid Games

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” -T.S. Eliot

If you subscribe to the idea that all ideas have already been thought up (I don’t,) then the natural last bastion of creativity is to start combining ideas in new and interesting ways. Permutation city. Of course when you think about that for a while you realize there are probably near-infinite combinations of ideas, and the line between “new idea” and “a combination of previously existing ideas” gets blurry.

Here at Chesstris we’re all about the hybrid games. Go Tetris! is obviously a hybrid game. A “mashup” if you will, of an ancient strategy game, and one of the most popular and viral games invented in recent history. Read on for more about puzzle game “mashups” and about my latest game addiction.

I’m clearly not the only person thinking about puzzle game mashups. In fact, it often seems to me that there are very few new ideas in puzzle games, and the vast majority of games that hit the market are really just re-hashing previously existing games in some way or another.

This leads me to my latest DS addiction, Puzzle Quest. PQ is basically a variant of Bejeweled, modified to fit into the RPG genre. Instead of jewels, you match either experience, gold, skulls, or four different colors of mana. When you match something, you collect a point value of that thing, or in the case of skulls, you do points of dammage to your opponent. The mana, of course, allow you to cast spells that have differing effects and point/color requirements.

I’m all about statistics in gameplay. I love getting to the end of a level (or better yet, game) and seeing all the bizarre scoring. I especially love keeping track of your scores across multiple games, and keeping track of statistics across multiple games. I think that’s part of why PQ’s game mechanic of “collecting stuff as you play” appeals to me. It’s the same reason it’s fun to “level up” in Role Playing Games. As any RPG addict knows, getting to the next level is half the fun.

Another new game mechanic in PQ is the multiplayer aspect. Most puzzle games are half-assed multiplayer, or downright stpuid that way. This game is not. This game was MADE FOR multiplayer. The idea is that you’re taking turns matching the stuff on the gameboard. Your AI opponent is also scouring the board looking for that four piece match that gets you twice the points and allows you to take a second turn. (Or better yet, the five piece match that gets you twice the points, a second turn, and a wild color mana piece to boot.)

So all in all, Puzzle Quest has a lot going for it. Especially if you love puzzle games, and even more so if you love Bejeweled. Personally, I never really loved Bejeweled all that much. I had it on my old phone, but I seldom played it. I prefer Jewel Quest, with the extra game mechanic that keeps track of where you’ve matched tiles, and with its variation on board size and shape.

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