We%26rsquo;re going old-school with our pick today, a six month-old game based upon a 13 year-old original. But time has not dulled the sparkle of this gothic match-3 gem. Castlevania Puzzle: Encore of the Night follows the exact same story as the classic 2D action game Castlevania: Symphony of the Night %26ndash; in fact, you even explore the same areas and fight the same enemies. But this time, instead of exploring a sprawling castle and hacking and slashing foes in real time, you do it by matching colored gems. The game has been turned into a puzzle RPG. Think of it as Super Puzzle Fighter II with a dash of Puzzle Quest and a Castlevania makeover. Or, if you don%26rsquo;t know any of those games, think of it as head-to-head Bejeweled with a plot.
You still play as Dracula%26rsquo;s son, Alucard, and the castle is still divided into a series of different rooms. Only, to navigate the rooms, you simply need to touch where you want to go, with no platforming whatsoever. Once in a room, you either collect an item or, much more likely, enter into a random battle. The battles play out sort of like a mix between Bejeweled and Tetris. Blocks will fall from the top of the screen, and you need to match up three or more of the same color to clear away blocks and damage your opponent. Winning battles earns you experience, and as with the Symphony you%26rsquo;ll gather skill points to customize your character.
And it wouldn%26rsquo;t be a Castlevania game without lots of backtracking. Some areas of the castle aren%26rsquo;t accessible initially, which forces you to return once you have the right ability or item. This means you%26rsquo;ll have to regularly fight off very low level enemies just to progress. It%26rsquo;s tedious, but thankfully the battles don%26rsquo;t last too long.
Turning an action game into a puzzle game is a strange move, but one that ultimately works. It%26rsquo;s Symphony only with jewels instead of whips, and it might be even more difficult to put down.
Jan 5, 2011