>Impressions: Puzzle Quest Galactrix (DS)

>We’re only 3 days into March but I’ve already got a front-runner for the Biggest Disappointment of 2009: the DS version of Puzzle Quest Galactrix. As I am a fiend for all things Bejeweled-esque, and especially because I remain such a huge fan of the original Puzzle Quest (going as far as to buy it on the DS, the 360, and my old cellphone), I am willing to give the forthcoming XBLA version a fair shake. That said, the DS version – the version I was really looking forward to, the version I was hoping to be able to play at all hours of the day – is absolutely horrible.

And I say this even though I only was able to play PQG for about 10 minutes; 10 minutes was probably more than enough, to be honest. To be fair, my DS battery was about to die – but the technical problems in the DS version are glaringly obvious, and I’m being brutally honest when I say that 10 minutes with this version is being incredibly generous.

MTV’s Stephen Totillo has gone on at some length about the ridiculous – nay, absurd – loading times that plague the DS version – every thing you do is punctuated by 3-5 seconds of loading, and that shit adds up, especially since it’s unclear why switching between not-terribly-impressive screens should take that long. This could very easily be a Flash title – in fact, I do believe there’s a Flash demo online somewhere.

Most infuriating, though, is that the touch screen controls are totally fucked. The general idea is that you pilot a starship and you fly around to all the nearby planets/asteroids/ships by pointing on them, and then when you get there you point again and a little menu pops up, and then you point on whichever menu item strikes your fancy. This doesn’t seem to be that big a deal, except that when the menu pops up, you have approximately 3 pixels with which to click on – and if you miss, which you will, the menu doesn’t just close – your ship inexplicably flies off in a completely random direction, which means you have to click on the planet AGAIN and click on the menu AGAIN and attempt to select your menu option AGAIN and invariably you’ll miss the tiny little window and then you have to do all this shit AGAIN, and this shit adds up even more than the gratuitous loading.

As for the game itself – the part where you arrange colored hexagons in order to do battle – it’s basically the same thing as the original Puzzle Quest except new hexagons can enter the playing area from any side, not just the top. And, as it was in the original Puzzle Quest, the computer cheats like a motherfucker. It is not at all uncommon for the computer to get a 5 or 6-time cascade, which can totally fuck you up – and this happens at least 2-3 times per battle. And remember: I only played this game for 10 minutes, and I only got into 3 battles – the computer cheats like crazy AT THE VERY BEGINNING OF THE GAME, WHEN YOU’RE STILL FIGURING OUT WHAT THE DIFFERENT COLORS MEAN.

It would stand to reason that the 360 version will not have these problems – the menus should be much easier to navigate, and the loading times should be nonexistent. But the 360 version isn’t portable, which is what made the original Puzzle Quest such a pleasant time-suck.

(And speaking of my 360, fucking UPS has it slated to be delivered back to me on Monday, March 9. It was given a shipping label on Saturday, February 28. That seems impossible; it only took 4 days for my 360 to get to the repair facility. I fucking hate UPS.)

I’m getting way too bent out of shape over this game – indeed, I’ve spent more time writing this post than I did playing the freakin’ thing. Rent it if you absolutely must, but be warned: it’s going to drive you crazy.

Author: Jeremy Voss

Musician, wanna-be writer, suburban husband and father. I'll occasionally tweet from @couchshouts. You can find me on XBL, PSN and Steam as JervoNYC.

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