A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition is a tactical match-3 puzzle game with mild violence. Fantasy creatures including dragons and spiky-backed turtles attack enemies with each match made on the play grid, but they don't actually make contact with one another. Successful strikes involve flashes of light and impact sound effects. No characters die or appear seriously injured. Parents also should note that this game supports the Nintendo 3DS StreetPass feature and that kids will be able to create a text name and very short message to be shared with others -- including strangers -- who play the game as they pass them on the street.
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What's it about?
PUZZLE & DRAGONS Z + PUZZLE & DRAGONS SUPER MARIO BROS. EDITION is two games in one. Both are match-3 games with nearly identical puzzle play, but one has a traditional fantasy theme with an RPG-like story that involves quests and chats with other characters, while the other is dressed up to look like a colorful Mario game, complete with dozens of iconic characters and items. The puzzles in both revolve around sliding tiles within a grid to match them with like colors, which causes any similarly colored allies on your team to attack your enemies. Defeating all foes lets you advance to the next stage in your current dungeon. Players need to consider many factors before moving, including which tiles will cause the most damage to enemies or whether to use any special abilities. Apart from puzzles, players can grow and evolve their teammates in many ways to make them more powerful, using earned currencies and rare resources.
Is it any good?
Unlike many modern match-3 puzzle games, Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition isn't a free-to-play game with in-app purchases, a genre frequently associated with imbalanced play that encourages players to pay to win. Rather, it's a challenging but balanced game that urges players to think strategically and that rewards skill. Its complex puzzle/battle system pushes players to think through each move before executing it, while providing loads of ways for a player to grow each member of a team and make them feel like his or her own. It's surprisingly strategic and wonderfully empowering.
The big question for most players will be which of the two games to play first. Die-hard Mario fans should enjoy the Italian plumber-themed edition, which has little in the way of story and instead places its focus on keeping players in puzzles populated with pleasantly familiar characters such as Bloopers and Buzzy Beetles. Fans of games such as Pokémon, on the other hand, may appreciate the freely explorable world and chatty story of Puzzle & Dragons Z, which features a young apprentice capturing monsters, training them, and deploying them in battle. Regardless, both games offer a very similar -- and quite satisfying -- puzzle-game experience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about online safety. When using StreetPass, what sort of messages do you create to share with strangers? Have you ever received an aggressive or distressing message from another player? Have you tried switching off StreetPass?
Discuss puzzle solving. Do you enjoy using your mind to solve problems and work out strategies? Do you feel the same sense of satisfaction when you riddle out the answer to a tricky puzzle as when you defeat a hard enemy in an action game, or is it different somehow?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles, strategy
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: May 22, 2015
- Genre: Puzzle
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: April 5, 2021
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