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Blizzard Explains Why It Removed Heroes of the Storm Character's Cigar

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 3 hours 49 min ago

Blizzard fans might have noticed that StarCraft's Tychus Findlay, who's a playable character in Heroes of the Storm, no longer has his signature cigar hanging out the side of his mouth. As Blizzard recently explained in a post to Reddit, the decision to remove the cigar had to do with the game's rating.

Heroes of the Storm is published in multiple regions with a teen rating, so there are a number guidelines Blizzard has to adhere to. There are are regions where Findlay couldn't smoke and keep the teen rating, so Blizzard could either make two versions of the character (smoking and non-smoking) or just remove the cigar entirely.

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"Making 2 versions means more data management, multiple duplicates of the asset (if we update an animation, it has to propagate to all versions) such as the the death ragdoll model, The facial animations, his morph into the Odin, and apply that process to every skin as well," a Blizzard developer said. "This mountain of work affects multiple departments and has to be addressed every time we'd adjust Tychus."

Blizzard said that this isn't the first time it had to adjust a Heroes of the Storm character's appearance to accommodate rules in different regions. Any character that has a skeletal or bloody element has to be changed or removed entirely in some regions.

"It is a full time job managing those exceptions, and the less we have to manage, the more time we can spend making more game!" Blizzard said.

Ahead of the game's official launch early next month, Heroes of the Storm has entered open beta, meaning anyone can now freely download and play Blizzard's take on the increasingly popular MOBA genre.

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1080p Xbox One Gameplay Preview - Payday 2: Crimewave Edition

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 4 hours 57 min ago
Zorine and Dan get their next-gen controllers and creepy masks ready to investigate what’s on offer in Payday 2: Crimewave Edition for PS4 and Xbox One.
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Lords of the Fallen Is Getting a GOTY Edition

IGN.com - 4 hours 59 min ago

City Interactive and Deck 13's Lords of the Fallen is getting a Game of the Year release next month.

As is typical with most GOTY editions, this re-release includes a whole bunch of post-launch content, including the Ancient Labyrinth DLC, the Demonic Weapons and Lionheart packs, new weapons, armor, and more.

Lords of the Fallen is often compared to Dark Souls for its level design and difficult gameplay. Executive producer Tomasz Gop has addressed this sentiment, making a case for why its action-RPG should be judged on its own merits.

Continue reading…

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Splatoon, Magicka 2, Ultra Street Fighter IV - New Releases

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 5 hours 57 min ago
This week we get Splatoon, Magicka 2, Ultra Street Fighter IV, Badland Game of the Year Edition, Catlateral Damage and Rogue Legacy on PS4.
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Man Says Wii Burned His House Down

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 6 hours 12 min ago

Fire investigators in Colorado Springs think that a Wii console is the likely cause of a fire inside a RV home this week, local NBC news channel KOAA 5 reports.

The homeowner Trevor Pellegrin told KOAA 5 that he was not at home when the fire started. Pellegrin said that the fire also had nothing to do with the Wii wires, and that it started inside of the actual console.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Springs Fire Department told KOAA 5 that all other possible sources of ignition were ruled out.

The fire melted Pellegrin's TV, his Wii, and some of his clothes, and while his roof suffered "extensive smoke damage," it seems his home survived the incident.

In the comments section to the KOAA 5 website, Pellegrin says that he got in touch with a Nintendo representative, but the he was located in the United Kingdom, so he was redirected to Nintendo of America.

One of the images from KKTVO 11 News video segment about the fire shows that Pellegrin also owns an Xbox 360, which appears to have survived the fire unscathed.

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GTA 5 Mod Adds Just Cause 2's Grappling Hook

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 6 hours 52 min ago

If you just can't wait for the release of Just Cause 3, this Grand Theft Auto V mod might scratch that itch.

Created by JulioNIB, the Just Cause 2 grappling mod for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto V is exactly what it sounds like. It adds a special gun to the game that fires a grappling hook, allowing you to easily pull yourself up to high places, or go flying from car to car. Since GTA V already has a parachute, you can even recreate Just Cause 2's unique means of traveling across the map.

It also allows you to tether objects like cars or people to each other, which inevitably leads to some hilarious moments.

Modder JulioNIB said that the ability to steal vehicles while standing on the roof of the car, hijacking helicopter while being "hooked" to them, and the ability to attach to more objects are all on his "to do" list for the next version of the mod.

You can find the mod here.

For more great GTA V mods, watch GameSpot play with the telekinesis mode, the nuke railgun mod, and other top mods for the game.

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Popular World of Warcraft Bot Creators Planning Comeback

GameSpot's PC Reviews - 7 hours 16 min ago

The creators of HonorBuddy, a popular World of Warcraft bot that was recently detected by Blizzard, is planning to bring the service back to life.

HonorBuddy allows players to collect honor in PvP without actually engaging anyone and requires no input from the player.

"We will soon release Honorbuddy again," staff member "Bossland" said in a post on the official Honorbuddy forum. "Again, we will give no guarantee and we have never given a guarantee, that our software is immune to detection or bans."

Honorbuddy speculated that its client was detected via "malware-type hidden software," which scanned and found computers that were running software that violated the World of Warcraft's terms of service.

Bossland said that they expect to bring Honorbuddy back by the end of the week, but it doesn't seem like they have quite yet.

Honorbuddy also disputed Blizzard's claim that over 100,000 World of Warcraft account were banned during the ban wave on May 13. "there has never been that many active Honorbuddy users," they said.

Outside of World of Warcraft, Blizzard is gearing up to launch a new MOBA called Heroes of the Storm, which is pitched as a competitive online game in the same vein as League of Legends or DotA 2, but said to be more approachable.

It is also working on a team-based shooter called Overwatch, which it has described as a "pick-up-and-play" FPS. Find out more about the game in GameSpot's in-depth report on Overwatch's characters and gameplay.

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Watch Room-Scale SteamVR Zombie Apocalypse Game Arizona Sunshine

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 14:40

One of the few games announced for the HTC Vive headset, which uses Steam's virtual reality technology, is the zombie apocalypse-themed Arizona Sunshine, developer Vertigo Games has announced.

"Arizona Sunshine is a VR shooter built and optimized for room-scale VR from the ground up," Vertigo Games said. "Step into the midst of a zombie apocalypse as if you were really there, and defend yourself against enemies close enough to touch. A custom-built physical animation system makes striking your undead enemies more thrilling and satisfying than ever before."

Arizona Sunshine will use HTC Vive's motion controllers to let you handle, fire, and reload your weapon, and Vertigo Games said the game is built in "bite-sized chunks," allowing you to jump in for just a few minutes or for longer sessions.

Vertigo Games previously developed World of Diving, a multiplayer underwater adventure that supports the Oculus Rifts. It's also currently developing another game for the HTC Vive, Skyworld, a turn-based strategy game.

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Carmageddon: Reincarnation Is Finally Out of Early Access

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 13:55

Carmageddon: Reincarnation, which revives the “points for pedestrians” destruction derby-style car game series, is finally out of Steam Early Access. The game was released earlier this week after being delayed from its original April 22 launch date.

"In 1997, a videogame was released that caused establishment scandal and media hysteria around the world," developer Stainless Games said. "Banned in some countries, censored in others, and even condemned by a Pope [not the actual Pope, but a British minister of parliament named Pope], overnight it became the poster child for everything that’s wrong in society… and therefore right in a videogame...And now, Stainless Games is proud to announce the FULL RELEASE of the latest ground-breaking game in the series."

The final game's Career Mode spans 16 chapters, each including 3-4 events, with 50 events to compete in overall. The multiplayer mode will allow up to eight players online or over LAN, and includes six event types: Classic Carmageddon, Car Crusher, Fox 'n' Hounds, Ped Chase, Death Race, and Checkpoint Stampede.

There are also nine maps, 36 race routes, and 24 vehicles to choose from, unless you were a Kickstarter backer, which will get you a special edition bonus car.

The game was funded on Kickstarter in 2012 with over $625,000, and in 2013 Stainless Games raised an additional $3.5 million from Bullfrog Productions founder Les Edgar, which the developer said would allow it to bring Carmageddon: Reincarnation to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well as PC.

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Most Explosive GTA 5 Mods of the Week

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 13:18

The Grand Theft Auto 5 mods we checked out this week really speak for themselves. Harness the power of the Force against unknowing civilians, fire off nukes, buff your regular firearms beyond belief, and... ride a deer?

Here are our favorite Grand Theft Auto 5 mods of the week.

Take the Firework Launcher, expand the explosions, intensify the wind effects, and you get a portable nuke launcher in Grand Theft Auto 5. What else is there to say?

Someone call me when I can stomp around Los Santos with Metal Gear REX.

If you like explosions, download it here.

Star Wars plus Grand Theft Auto... sort of. The Force comes to Los Santos with the Telekinesis mod.

Continue reading…

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Free Gauntlet Update Will Make It What Devs Originally Envisioned

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 13:18

Arrowhead Game Studios is working on a big, free update to its Gauntlet reboot which will significantly improve the original release, the developer has said.

"In truth, we were never fully satisfied with how Gauntlet turned out," Arrowhead's game director Emil Englund said in a post to Arrowhead's official site. "So, rather than just fixing little things here and there, we have been working on the core of the game to turn it into what we originally envisioned."

Englund didn't get into specifics, but said that the update will include improvements to the Campaign, Colosseum, as well as an entirely new game mode.

Gauntlet was originally released in September 2014. The game, which is a reboot of the 1985 original, got a fair score of 6/10 in GameSpot's review. Earlier this year, Arrowhead released another top-down four-player cooperative game called Helldivers, which got a great score of 8/10 in GameSpot's review.

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GTA 5 Top Mods of the Week - Episode 4

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 12:05
Use the force, shoot a nuke launcher, and... ride a deer? All that and more, on GTA 5 Top Mods of the Week!
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Witcher 3's Combat is the Best in the Series - Review Discussion

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 12:00
The Witcher series has never had great feeling combat, until Witcher 3 that is. Four IGN editors discuss what's changed.
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Battlefield 4 Patch With New Guns and Mode Coming This Tuesday

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 11:07

Battlefield 4's spring update, which adds new guns and a new mode to the multiplayer first-person shooter, will release this Tuesday May 26, developer DICE has announced.

The update will hit all platforms according the following schedule:

  • PC: Multiplayer will be offline for 1h starting 08.00 UTC / 1.00 AM PDT.
  • Xbox One: Multiplayer will be offline for 1h starting 09.00 UTC / 2.00 AM PDT.
  • Xbox 360: Multiplayer will be offline for 1h starting 10.00 UTC / 3.00 AM PDT.
  • PS4: Multiplayer will be offline for 1h starting 11.00 UTC / 4.00 AM PDT.
  • PS3: Multiplayer will be offline for 1h starting 12.00 UTC / 5.00 AM PDT.

In addition to the old Gun Master mode from Battlefield 3. The patch will add five new weapons, and while DICE didn't share their exact names and look, it gave us a general idea for what to expect:

  • New fan favorite Assault Rifle - Picked based on its unique burst gameplay and massive fan desirability
  • New Carbine - A unique bullpup carbine with built-in vertical grip
  • New PDW - A unique PDW with built-in silencer
  • New Sidearm - Unique long range “sniper” sidearm using magnum rounds
  • New LMG - Magazine fed LMG, which with the new weapons balance, plays in between a belt-fed LMG and an AR – your “run and gun” LMG

Gun Master, which gained its popularity in the Battlefield 3: Close Quarters DLC, is like Team Deathmatch, but you only get new weapons every time you get two consecutive kills, and the first player to get a kill with the final weapon wins.

The patch will also "significantly improve client stability on all platforms," fix a number of issues that cause crashes, and rebalance all weapons, which you can read about in greater detail here.

DICE said that it will release full patch notes once the update is released.

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AMD's New Flagship Radeon GPU Looks Slick

IGN.com - Sat, 2015-05-23 10:39

The first photo for AMD's new flagship Radeon graphics card has popped up online, showcasing an incredibly sleek form factor for the still unannounced piece of PC hardware.

Johan Andersson, the technical director over at Electronic Arts, posted the image on Twitter, calling it "one seriously impressive and sweet GPU."

This new island is one seriously impressive and sweet GPU. wow & thanks @AMDRadeon ! They will be put to good use :) pic.twitter.com/S5hyD6vxNh

Continue reading…

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Crossy Road Developer Is Making a New Pac-Man

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 10:29

Bandai Namco Studios Vancouver and Crossy Road developer Hipster Whale are working on a new Pac-Man mobile game called Pac-Man 256, the companies have announced.

The game is named after the infamous 256 glitch. When players reached that level in the original Pac-Man arcade machine, half the screen turned into a garbled mess of random characters. Hipster Whale and Bandai Namco say that in Pac-Man 256, the player will be chased by the glitch through an endless maze.

In short, the game sounds and looks like a mix between Crossy Road and Pac-Man.

"Playing PAC-MAN in a seaside arcade in 1980 is one of my earliest memories," Hipster Whale Director Matthew Hall said. "It is an incredible honor to be able to contribute to one of the most iconic video game franchises in history. Our game, PAC-MAN 256, takes the infamous ‘glitch’ level of PAC-MAN and builds upon this to become a unique game that retains the retro spirit of the original."

Crossy Road, in case you haven't played it, is an incredibly successful "endless hopper" mobile game inspired by Frogger. For more on the game, check out GameSpot's interview with Hipster Whale's Andy Sum and Matthew Hall.

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Check Out Madden NFL 16's First Screenshots

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 10:11

Publisher Electronic Arts has released the first set of screenshots from the latest entry in its football franchise Madden NFL 16.

EA says that the new game will have improved time of day lighting that will help highlight Madden NFL 16's updated player likenesses.

EA also said the game will feature all-new wide receiver-defensive back interactions, body relative throws, and the most authentic exchanges to date between receivers and defenders.

Madden NFL 16, which features Odell Beckham Jr. on the cover, launches August 25 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, as well as last-generation consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. If you're an EA Access member on Xbox One, you'll be able to play it a little sooner.

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4K Gaming - How cool is it?

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 09:00
We put 4K gaming to the test in this video looking at what lies beyond 1080p60. How does The Wticher 3, GTA V, Far Cry4, and more all look running at 3840x2160.
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Weekly Recap: Witcher 3 Graphics Downgrade, New Need for Speed Announced, GTA 5 Sells 52 Million

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Sat, 2015-05-23 08:00
THE BIG STUFF:

Witcher 3 Dev Responds to Graphics Downgrade Concerns: In a interview with Eurogamer, key developers from the Polish studio frankly acknowledge that the visuals for the final game--released this week to high praise--don't exactly match a video shown during the VGX awards show two years ago. They also explain why.

Need for Speed Open-World "Full Reboot" Hitting PS4, Xbox One, and PC This Fall: After a week of teases, Electronic Arts formally announced a new Need for Speed game this week. The game, called Need for Speed, launches this fall for new-gen consoles and PC. We spoke with Marcus Nilsson, GM of developer Ghost Games, about the project. Click through the link above to get the full story.

GTA 5 Ships Nearly 52 Million Copies: Rockstar's open-world action game reached yet another sales milestone this week. The new number comes after the release of the PC version in April.

THE OTHER STUFF:

President Obama, who seems to enjoy The Witcher, has joined Twitter. This comes after six years in office. By comparison, Michelle Obama has had a Twitter account since 2013. What's on Obama's mind? Follow him here to find out:

Hello, Twitter! It's Barack. Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account.

— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015

Chicago-based developer Above and Beyond Technologies has announced that its Kickstarter-funded MMO, The Repopulation, will officially launch for PC in Q4 this year. The game promises a level of player freedom "unparalled in MMORPGs." An in-development version of the game is currently available through Steam Early Access for $15.

Here's a juicy, but pretty sketchy, rumor. Japanese website Gamestalk has obtained what appears to be a promotional image for Shenmue 3. Logos for Sega and Square Enix (??) appear in the image, along with...well, check it out for yourself.

NOVA's Evolution Lab has released a new video game that aims to teach children (or really, anyone else) about the theory of Evolution. It features an interactive digital tree of life and more. Play it here.

Did You Know Gaming's next video has arrived, this one focusing on Sony's Ratchet & Clank series. Watch the video below to learn a lot about the PlayStation franchise.

PC gaming company Razer this week announced that it worked with Chinese authorities to nab two people for illegally selling counterfeit Razer products in China. Per a press release: "Haikui Lin and Ping Gong were each committed to a year in prison and fined 140,000RMB, in addition to a 150,000RMB fine paid to Razer."

Are toys-to-life games like Skylanders and Amiibo a passing fad or here to stay? The Wall Street Journal dug into the issue this week as part of an excellent feature. Read it here.

EliteGamerLive, which aims to be the NCAA of esports, has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for its development and expansion. Head to the Indiegogo page to get all the details and to support the campaign.

Here is a video of 49 floppy disks playing various theme songs, including the Tetris theme song Not much else to say here.

If Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic action game The Last of Us were set in Tokyo, it might look this this. Check out this incredible concept art from a current Ubisoft Osaka artist.

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A Minecraft player who chose the name "MojangSucksDick" faced justice as Mojang changed his name to "NoWeDont." Good stuff, Mojang. Get the full story here.

Whether or not anyone asked for it, it's happening. It was announced this week that the Adventure Time and Puzzle Quest franchises are coming together for a new crossover game. Stay with me…The game is called Adventure Time Puzzle Quest. It's a match-three puzzle game that features the characters (and accordingly, the humor) of the popular Cartoon Network animated TV show. The free-to-play game launches this summer worldwide for iOS and Android devices.

Image credit: TouchArcade

At the request of competitive players, Riot has introduced a new "Hide Eye Candy" option to popular MOBA League of Legends. As its name suggests, this disables elements like butterflies, dragonflies, and water wakes. Get the full scoop over at Riot's website.

Nintendo was victorious in a patent suit involving the Wii Balance Board, the Japanese game giant announced this week. Two years ago, two companies, Ithaca Ventures and Ithaca Development sued Nintendo. They claimed the Wii Balance Board infringed on their patent. However, Nintendo said the suit was meritless, and Ithaca eventually withdrew its case. Get the full story here.

This is some of the best Pac-Man themed trolling I've ever seen. Such dedication!

Have a lovely Memorial Day weekend!

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Puzzle & Dragons Z + Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition Review

GameSpot's PC Reviews - Fri, 2015-05-22 23:15

Having played Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons: Super Mario Bros. Edition for quite some time now, I get the feeling that these games really weren’t made for me.

Let me elaborate on that statement a bit: I adore the mobile version of Puzzle & Dragons, and have made it a part of my daily gaming routine for a very long time. The prospect of a version devoid of free-to-play trappings such as limited stamina for adventuring, or the premium-monster Rare Egg Machine is naturally exciting. Developers often make substantial changes in game design when making a free-to-play version of a popular game, often to the game’s detriment; features once seen as a given are now treated as pricey premiums. On the 3DS, P&D Z and P&D Mario represent quite the opposite: they remove some of the features of the free-to-play game, leaving experiences that, while still quite fun, don’t quite live up to the ever-changing and growing mobile version.

Puzzle & Dragons, for the unfamiliar, is an exceptionally clever mix of match-three puzzling, a collectible card game, and role-playing. You assemble a team of five monsters, complete with a “leader,” from the horde of dragons, demons, gods, and superhumans you’ve collected, and then venture into dungeons consisting of sets of enemy encounters. You engage in combat on a 6X5 puzzle board: match three orbs of a particular color, and your monsters of that color attack foes. Unlike in a lot of similar games, you can move a single orb around the whole board for a short time, using it to shift many other orbs and create multiple matches, and thus yield more attacks and attack boosts for your team. Enemies, naturally, hit back when their turns arrive, which is when you focus on matching the healing orbs on the board. With practice, you’re launching multiple combos and healing each turn with ease.

It’s not just puzzle prowess that makes P&D appealing, however: every monster type in the game is unique, with its own statistics, color attributes, and perhaps most importantly, special skills. Leader monsters can employ a passive, always-on leader skill, like increasing the health points of your monsters of the same color, or giving an attack multiplier after a certain number of combos. Active skills are single-use abilities each monster has that you must choose to trigger, with effects like changing one orb type into another, or healing a bit of team health. Awakened skills--seen here only with Mario P&D--are extra, passive skills that can be applied to certain monsters by special means. Weighing considerations like monster types, stats, and skills is crucial to success when building teams. With the right materials earned from dungeon romps, monsters can also evolve and transform. It’s this feeling of building and growing a killer squad, along with flaunting your puzzle skills, that makes P&D so tremendously fun and satisfying.

While both Puzzle & Dragons Z and Puzzle & Dragons Mario are built on this formula, the two games take very different approaches to presentation. P&D Mario is a full reskin with the Super Mario theme, replacing the fierce gods and towering dragons of mobile P&D with Mario, Luigi, Toad, and a bunch of familiar baddies. P&D Z is also quite different from the mobile game, but in its own way: while it features some of the familiar mobile P&D monsters, it’s a more kid-friendly, story-driven adventure in which you fight an evil organization that controls the legendary Skydragons and is trying to reshape the world. From a strictly cosmetic standpoint, P&D Z is considerably more appealing: P&D Mario reuses New Super Mario Bros. music and visual assets frequently. Evolving a tiny dragon baby into a huge, hulking god-lizard is leagues more appealing than changing a Blooper into “a Blooper, but now with a baby Blooper!”

But there are more than just cosmetic differences between the two. Let’s start with P&D Z: it’s a fairly old game, having first released in Japan in late 2013, and simplifies the mobile game as it existed at that time, with all single-color-attribute monsters and no awakened skills. It also implements a significant change to the active skill system; instead of monsters each waiting a set number of turns before their skills can be triggered, there’s a pool of skill points that can be utilized at any time by any monster, as long as you’ve got enough points to use a particular skill. P&D Mario feels a lot closer to modern mobile P&D, with things like multi-attribute monsters, skill-up boosts, and awakened skills, along with a more traditional turn-based active skill system.

The key difference between both of these games and mobile P&D, however, is the removal of anything associated with the in-app purchases that fuel the mobile version’s money machine. Mobile P&D employs a free-to-play standard stamina meter than limits your play time (unless you either wait or pay), but you won’t find that here. Your squad gains experience with dungeons in P&D Z and P&D Mario, unlike the mobile game, in which experience is strictly sacrifice-based. (This is an adjustment I really wish would be implemented in the mobile version.) Wiping out in a dungeon doesn’t mean you lose everything you’ve earned: whereas you need to continue (and possible pay) in the mobile game to keep the loot you’ve earned to that point, the drops you acquire in P&D Z and P&D Mario stick with you whether you decide to bail, or use your one-up stash to keep pressing on.

This all sounds pretty great so far, so why don’t these games click in the way the mobile version does? For starters, there’s the odd difficulty curve. I understand that these games must be sold to people who may not have played P&D on mobile before, but being an experienced orb-slinger, I was terribly bored during the first few worlds of each game, wiping out enemy teams with relative ease. There’s no option to skip all the tutorials and introductory dialogue, either, meaning that no matter which game you choose to play first, you’ll be hearing a lot of the same advice to get you started. It isn’t until about the halfway point in each game that things start to get considerably more challenging, and sometimes in weirdly unfair ways. For instance, you may encounter a no-healing-orbs dungeon at a point where you’re not likely to have team members who have a “change an orb type to healing” active skill.

Another major issue is the grind. In mobile P&D, you have sets of dungeons that are centered around earning materials needed to upgrade your monsters, and they rotate on a consistent schedule. If there’s something you know you need, you set time and stamina aside on a specific day of the week to do a few dungeon runs for the drops you require (which you’re very likely to get). Both P&D Z and P&D Mario lack these, meaning that items (chips in P&D Z; coins and medals in P&D Mario) to upgrade monsters all must be be earned from regular dungeon runs, many of which don’t have great drop rates. This leads to a lot of repetition, forcing you to run dungeons where you know a certain monster could appear, usually with disappointment as an end result. A “pay in-game currency for random items” option appears about halfway through both games, but getting what you want from those is even more of a crapshoot.

But perhaps the biggest issue, an unavoidable part of being a prepackaged product, is that the games are woefully static. There are no fun little surprises when you boot the game up, like daily giveaways, new monster and dungeon additions, and limited-time bonuses and areas like in the mobile game. While it’s easy to cynically see these mobile P&D features as a means to get more money from players as they spend it on extra stamina and Rare Egg Machine rolls, the fact of the matter is that they make the game more interesting and exciting from one day to the next. When you’re done with P&D Z and Mario, when you’ve cleared all the current levels and collected every last type of Paragoomba and Cheep-Cheep, that’s all there is to it. But perhaps that’s intentional--have no doubt that developer GungHo hopes some players move on to the ever-evolving mobile game when they feel they’ve seen everything these two games have to offer.

That’s what I mean when I say that this game wasn’t made for me. It’s a watered-down stepping stone, intended to introduce players to Puzzle & Dragons with a familiar face and none of those intimidating in-app purchases. It’s clear, however, that P&D’s design was built on a free-to-play base, and taking those elements out actually makes the game feel less substantial as a result. (Yes, much as we loathe to admit it, it’s exciting to spend some premium-currency magic stones for a random rare monster from time to time, just as it’s fun to open a pack of trading cards or a blind-boxed figure.) While you can still have a good deal of fun with this two-in-one package, the mobile game is the better option. P&D Z and P&D Mario make nice little appetizers, but ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to feast on the main course afterwards.

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